Jeremy Corbyn seeks to clarify position on Brexit


Jeremy Corbyn has insisted that "Britain is leaving the European Union" as he sought to clarify his position on Brexit.

The Labour leader said "that is the decision of the referendum" and the process set out in Article 50 as he responded to criticism over his approach to the key election issue.

Mr Corbyn had earlier come under fire after he repeatedly failed to confirm that Britain would definitely leave the EU if he became prime minister.

In an attempt to draw a line under the row, he told BBC's Look North he said: "Can I make it clear: Yes, we accept the result of the referendum, Britain is leaving the European Union and we will negotiate a tariff-free trade access to the European market.

"That is essential for our manufacturing industry, essential for that trade and our future.

"We will also make sure that we protect those conditions we have achieved through Europe, such as the working time directive and issues like that.

"We will also guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain here."

Pressed on whether that meant the UK would definitely be leaving the EU, he said: "That is the decision of the referendum and that is the process of Article 50."

Mr Corbyn continued: "As a country, we had a debate, we had a vote, we made a decision, but I think we have to be very clear: Europe is our major trading partner, about half of all of our trade is with Europe, it's our nearest neighbour and we share an awful lot in common with them - values and human rights.

"I think we have to make sure we have an effective, efficient, sensible relationship with them."

Pressed on whether that meant that whatever the agreement, the UK would be out of the EU, he said: "I have made that very clear."

On Tuesday, the Labour leader used his party's official election campaign launch in Manchester to declare that the Brexit issue had been "settled" by last year's referendum.

But pressed repeatedly by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg in an interview over whether this meant the UK would withdraw "come hell or high water, whatever the deal on the table", Mr Corbyn did not give a definitive answer.

Setting out his approach to immigration policy, Mr Corbyn said there would be "managed migration", but the economic needs of the country must be met.

"If all European nationals weren't in Britain, our NHS would be in a bit of a state - with the number of EU nationals working within it," he said.

"So we have to have a managed migration system, based on the needs of our community, and family reunions."