Exclusive: Labour leader says debate is over as he seeks to shift focus to social justice and climate
Jeremy Corbyn has told his fractious shadow cabinet the debate is over on Brexit, as he seeks to stamp his authority on the general election campaign and shift the focus to social justice and the climate emergency.
Speaking to the Guardian in the south-west London seat of Putney, the Labour leader claimed he had instructed frontbench colleagues to fall into line, after divisions over Brexit sparked a furious row over whether to go for an election.
I just said, look, this debate is now over. Weve done it, the party has now made its decision, and thats it; and thats what were going to campaign on, he said, describing last weeks shadow cabinet meeting.
Speaking after a campaign visit to a social housing development, an uncharacteristically assertive Corbyn also said he had made a unilateral decision to back Boris Johnsons plan to trigger a 12 December general election despite the vocal objections of several colleagues, including Labours chief whip, Nick Brown.
I put it to them quite clearly: I said, our objections are now gone. We are now supporting a general election and everybody gulped. I didnt alert anybody in advance it was my decision. On my own. I made that decision. And they gulped, and said, Yes Jeremy.
Labours stance on Brexit has shifted significantly over the past 12 months, and the party now says it would seek to negotiate a new deal with Brussels including a closer trading relationship within three months, and put it to the public in a referendum within six.
Several members of the shadow cabinet, including Keir Starmer, have suggested they would campaign for remain in that referendum, and Emily Thornberry recently described Labour as a remain party; but Corbyn has insisted any decision on Labours position will not be taken until after the election.