British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn rules out backing ′Brexit′ | News | DW | 17.09.2015
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British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn rules out backing 'Brexit'

Jeremy Corbyn, the newly-elected leader of the opposition Labour Party, says he won't lobby for Britain to leave the EU. In an opinion piece for the Financial Times, Corbyn advocates a new economic doctrine for Europe.

Britain's left-wing politician Corbyn believes Britain should remain in the 28-member European bloc but said that he too, like conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, wants reforms in the European Union.

"Labour is clear that we should remain in the EU. But we too want to see reform," the 66-year-old opposition leader wrote in a guest commentary for the "Financial Times," published on Thursday.

David Cameron is also seeking to renegotiate the terms and conditions of Britain's EU membership - although his desired reforms are liable to differ markedly from Corbyn's. The premier plans to hold a referendum either in 2016 or 2017 on whether to remain in the bloc or exit.

Corbyn was elected as the Labour Party leader on September 12, by a wave of grassroots support. He won the backing of 59.5 percent of Labour party members despite warnings that he was steering the party too far to the left.

Unlike some of his Labour Party colleagues, most of whom would almost unconditionally advocate staying in the EU, Corbyn is more criticial on the EU and Britain's role within it. Still, he recently told the BBC that he could not imagine a situation where his party might campaign to leave the bloc.

"David Cameron is traversing Europe, apparently without much idea of what he wants to achieve in his much-feted renegotiation ahead of a referendum in 2016 or 2017. If the prime minister thinks he can weaken workers' rights and expect goodwill towards Europe to keep us in the EU, he is making a great mistake," Corbyn wrote.

"Our shadow cabinet is also clear that the answer to any damaging changes that Mr. Cameron brings back from his renegotiation is not to leave the EU but to pledge to reverse those changes with a Labour government elected in 2020," he added.

A survey published by pollster ICM on Tuesday found that 43 percent of those surveyed voters were in favor of staying in Europe, 40 percent wanted to leave, and 17 percent were undecided on what some have dubbed a "Brexit."

'Unpayable' Greek debt

Corbyn, who led the UK's grassroots campaign against the Iraq war and argues for nationalizing certain key industries like the railways and power companies, goes on to criticize Europe's pro-capitalist policies. He said that Europe should pursue a more social agenda rather than becoming a free-market haven.

"Labour wants to see change in Europe that delivers for Europe's people. We want to be better partners, and put our demands to make Europe better. We will make the case through Labour MEPs in the European Parliament, and our relationships with sister social democratic parties, trade unions and other social movements across Europe," the anti-austerity politician wrote.

Corbyn also criticized Europe's handling of the Greek debt crisis: "The treatment of Greece has appalled many who consider themselves pro-European internationalists. The Greek debt is simply not repayable, the terms are unsustainable and insistence that the unpayable be paid extends the humanitarian crisis in Greece and the risks to all Europe."

"The current orthodoxy has failed. We need a new economic settlement," Corbyn urged.

shs/msh (Reuters, dpa)

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