Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn demands election to ‘break deadlock’

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn calls for a general election: “This political chaos cannot go on.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has stepped up calls for a general election “at the earliest opportunity” to “break the deadlock” over Brexit.

In a speech, he said a new government would have a fresh mandate to negotiate a better withdrawal deal with the EU.

He told Theresa May: “If you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide.”

The Conservatives said Labour did not have a plan for Brexit and were “playing politics”.

Mr Corbyn has resisted growing calls from within his own party to get behind another EU referendum, insisting an election is still his top priority if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected by MPs next week.

The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March. The withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU – covering things like trade, expat citizens’ rights and setting up a 20-month transition period – will only come into force if MPs back it in a vote.

Labour is set to vote against Mrs May’s deal next Tuesday and if, as widely expected, it is defeated, they are expected to start moves to trigger a general election.

Asked if this would happen immediately, Mr Corbyn said Labour would “table a motion of no confidence in the government at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success”.

If a majority of MPs back a no confidence motion, the government will get 14 days to try and win another confidence vote – if it can’t do that, a general election will be held.

Mr Corbyn said: “Clearly, Labour does not have enough MPs in parliament to win a confidence vote on its own. So members across the House should vote with us to break the deadlock.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Theresa May has met Leave-supporting Labour MPs

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which is also against Mrs May’s deal, has said it will back her in any confidence vote.

As debate on the Brexit deal resumed in the House of Commons for the second of five days, it emerged that some of Mr Corbyn’s Leave-supporting backbench MPs have been speaking to Theresa May about backing her deal if she can guarantee environmental standards and rights for workers.

But Mr Corbyn said Labour did not “endorse or accept” a reported offer from the government to adopt an amendment to protect workplace and environmental rights.

“It’s already been quite clearly and emphatically rejected by the TUC and leading trade unions.

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