Jeremy Corbyn: Labour must take on Nigel Farage's 'snake oil'
9 May 2019, 12:29 | Updated: 9 May 2019, 17:51
Jeremy Corbyn has accused Nigel Farage of selling voters "snake oil", as he launched Labour's campaign for the European elections.
The Labour leader said Mr Farage's Brexit Party, which is top of many opinion surveys ahead of polling day on 23 May, was peddling "poison" and needed to be challenged.
Amid criticism of the party's position on the question of a second referendum, which has seen critics accuse Mr Corbyn of sitting on the fence, he said made "no apology" for "trying to offer something to everyone".
While Mr Corbyn said that "we cannot ignore" that more than 17 million people voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, he also told the audience in Kent: "It's in the country's interests to try to get this sorted one way or another.
"But we can never accept the government's bad deal or a disastrous no-deal.
"So if we can't get a sensible deal, along the lines of our alternative plan or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote."
Mr Corbyn said in a Q&A; session after his speech that he would want another public vote "to be seen as a healing process bringing this whole process to a conclusion".
Britain was due to leave the European Union at the end of March, but this has now been pushed back until October.
Prime Minister Theresa May has failed three times to get her Brexit deal passed by MPs, leading her to request a postponement of Britain's departure.
She has also reached out to Labour, with two sides engaged in cross-party talks to try and break the deadlock.
Mrs May invited senior DUP politicians to her Chequers country retreat on Thursday afternoon for talks.
The Northern Ireland party - who prop up the Tory government at Westminster but are vehemently opposed to Mrs May's Brexit deal - said the discussions would be a "useful opportunity" to remind the prime minister they want to see Brexit "delivered in a way that strengthens the Union".
Attacking the "chaos" of Mrs May's handling of Brexit, Mr Corbyn said: "No one expected us to be holding these European elections but the government's complete failure on Brexit means they are going ahead against a backdrop of division and frustration.
"A vote for Labour is a vote to bring our divided country back together. Labour is the only party with a plan to unite our country to make it work for the many, not the few.
"We will end austerity invest in our economy and our communities and raise wages and living standards.
"Labour's alternative plan for Brexit which protects jobs, living standards and communities would end the chaos caused by the Conservatives and let us focus on the other big issues facing our country."
The Labour leader promised to address the "inequalities that helped fuel" the vote for Brexit and insisted the real divide in Britain was not over Europe.
"The real divide is between the many and the few," he said.
"Whether you're from Tottenham or Mansfield, Stockwell or Stoke here in Medway or Manchester so many of the problems you face are the same.
"And while the government's incompetence and divisions over Brexit have created this deadlock, the injustices in our society are deepening."
Turning his attention to Mr Farage, Mr Corbyn said: "These elections are also a chance to challenge the poison being peddled by the likes of Nigel Farage.
"He says Brexit is being blocked by the elite. It's not true. The large majority of MPs have voted for a Brexit deal in one form or another."
Mr Farage's newly-formed party was, Mr Corbyn told the audience, "in fact the no-deal party".
He said this would mean "no jobs" for millions and result in "an elite Brexit that would only work for the richest".
"Nigel Farage's Brexit is a Brexit for conspiracy theorists," Mr Corbyn continued.
"For those who see Muslims and migrants or George Soros as the enemy.
"Only Labour can see off the Farage snake oil in this election. And stand by our country's values of tolerance, openness and diversity."
Asked after his speech about the state of the cross-party talks, Mr Corbyn said they have been "difficult" because of the level of "disarray" in the government.
"They are still ongoing. The government has to move its red lines."
:: Later on Thursday, European Council president Donald Tusk announced a special gathering of EU leaders - including Mrs May - two days after the European Parliament elections conclude on the continent.
The summit, on 28 May, will see the bloc's heads of government begin the process for picking successors to Mr Tusk, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.
The trio's terms all end later this year.
(c) Sky News 2019: Jeremy Corbyn: Labour must take on Nigel Farage's 'snake oil'