I am proud to lead the Labour Party – the greatest political party and social movement in this country.
We all recognise that the issue of Brexit has been divisive in our communities and sometimes in our party too.
As democrats, Labour accepted the result of the 2016 referendum. In our 2017 manifesto, Labour also committed to oppose a No Deal Brexit and the Tories’ Brexit plans – which threatened jobs, living standards, and the open multicultural society that we as internationalists value so much.
I want to pay tribute to Keir Starmer and the shadow Brexit team for holding the Government to account during this process. That helped secure a meaningful vote on their deal – which we then defeated three times – including inflicting the largest ever defeat on any Government. And following their refusal to publish their legal advice, this Government became the first to be held in contempt of Parliament.
Labour set out a compromise plan to try to bring the country together based around a customs union, a strong single market relationship and protection of environmental regulations and rights at work. We continue to believe this is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together.
But the Prime Minister refused to compromise and was unable to deliver, so we ended cross-party talks.
Now both Tory leadership candidates are threatening a No Deal Brexit – or at best a race to the bottom and a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump: that runs down industry, opens up our NHS and other public services to yet more privatisation, and shreds environmental protections, rights at work and consumer standards.
I have spent the past few weeks consulting with the shadow cabinet, MPs, affiliated unions and the NEC. I have also had feedback from members via the National Policy Forum consultation on Brexit.
Whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote.
In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs.
Labour has a crucial, historic duty to safeguard jobs, rights and living standards. But no Brexit outcome alone can do that.
We need a general election. After nine years of austerity, too many people in this country cannot find decent secure well-paid work, and have to rely on public services that have been severely cut back.
Our country is ravaged by inequality and rising poverty, huge regional imbalances of investment, and the government is failing to tackle the climate emergency facing us all.
That is why we need a Labour government to end austerity and rebuild our country for the many, not the few.