Jeremy Corbyn, who is currently leading the race to be Labour’s next leader, has elaborated on his position on the European Union.
Despite a reputation as a eurosceptic – in a recent hustings he said he wouldn’t rule out campaigning for a no vote in a future EU membership referendum owing to David Cameron’s stance on workers’ rights – he has now said that Labour should seek to reform the EU from within.
In a statement to the Guardian, he said:
Labour should set out its own clear position to influence negotiations, working with our European allies to set out a reform agenda to benefit ordinary Europeans across the continent. We cannot be content with the state of the EU as it stands. But that does not mean walking away, but staying to fight together for a better Europe.”
In the new issue of the New Statesman, out tomorrow, he expanded on the subject to NS editor Jason Cowley:
Taken slightly historically, the turning point in the EU was actually the Single European Act, the Thatcher/Maastricht-era stuff, which was turning the EU into very much a market system,” he says. “Setting up an independent European Central Bank, which then promotes the euro, and I think the sheer brutality of the way they’ve treated Greece, makes me question an awful lot. The other side of it is, I think, that Labour should be making demands about working arrangements across Europe, about levels of corporate taxation across Europe. There has to be agreement on environmental regulation . . . Why are we leaving it all to [David] Cameron, to put together a statement, when he’s had no negotiations with anybody?”
He also said that the Greek crisis should inform our view of the EU:
Look at it another way: if we allow unaccountable forces to destroy an economy like Greece, when all that bailout money isn’t going to the Greek people, it’s going to various banks all across Europe, then I think we need to think very, very carefully about what role they [the EU] are playing and what role we are playing in that.”