LONDON (Reuters) - The opposition Labour Party will campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union in an upcoming referendum, its leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday, after a dissenter from his party had suggested Corbyn might still join the “out” camp.
A eurosceptic left-winger who voted “no” to Europe in a 1975 referendum, Corbyn initially refused to rule out campaigning to leave the bloc after he was elected party leader in September, but has since said Labour would back remaining.
However, Labour lawmaker Graham Stringer, co-chair of the “Labour Leave” campaign, said in January that Corbyn’s latest position contradicted his past views and could still change ahead of the referendum.
In a speech to an association of Labour local councillors on Saturday, Corbyn stuck to his position.
“Our party is committed to keeping Britain in the EU because we believe it is the best framework for European trade and cooperation and in the best interests of the British people,” he said, according to a copy of the speech emailed by the party.
”But we also want to see progressive reform in Europe – democratisation, stronger workers’ rights, sustainable growth and jobs at the heart of economic policy, and an end to the pressure to privatise and deregulate public services.
“And we will be pressing the case for a real social Europe during the coming referendum campaign.”
Stringer had said Corbyn and his economic policy chief John McDonnell had consistently voted to oppose EU integration over their 30 years in parliament.
Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Toby Chopra