Brexit dominates Leaders’ Debate as Johnson and Corbyn clash in bad-tempered exchanges

By Ed Southgate
November 13 2019, 21.25

Jeremy Corbyn refused nine times to say if he would support a Labour-negotiated Brexit deal in today’s ITV Leaders’ Debate.

He repeatedly swerved Boris Johnson’s taunts of whether he would support Leave or Remain by reiterating Labour’s policy.

His party proposes three months to negotiate a new deal and six further months for a referendum – but has not said which way it would campaign in that vote.

Mr Corbyn insisted the policy was ‘very clear’ and would ‘bring that [Brexit] process to an end’.

But in a bad tempered exchange, Boris Johnson sneered back that “what people need to understand is whether he believes in the deal he is proposing to do. Does he actually want to do this deal?”

The Prime Minister added: “At this election what we are asking is for a mandate to govern. Mr Corbyn is asking for a mandate to conduct a new negotiation next year when we don’t need one because we have already got a deal.”

The Labour leader responded: “I want to bring people together, therefore there will be a referendum in which that decision will be made by the people and our government will abide by that decision.”

He dismissed the Conservative’s timetable to ‘get Brexit done’ as nonsense and incompatible with his other proposals.

He told the Tory leader: “You are going to embark on probably seven years of negotiations with the United States on a trade deal.

“You have already indicated that you will allow our National Health Service to be put at risk by a trade deal with the United States. You have already indicated that you would do a Canada agreement which took at least seven years to negotiate.

“So you are not going to get it done in a few months and you know that perfectly well.”

Mr Johnson repeatedly pivoted to Brexit throughout the debate, a clear tactic from a playbook that aims to paint next month’s vote as the Brexit Election.

He insisted all 635 Conservative candidates agreed to support his deal, countering Labour candidates do not have a united position on the UK’s future relationship with Europe.

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