UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn's New Year message says he understands lack of trust in EU

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright PA
Image caption The Labour leader insisted his party would not obstruct the process of leaving the EU

Jeremy Corbyn says he understands the lack of trust in politicians and the EU that led to the Brexit vote.

In his New Year message, the Labour leader said 2016 would "live long in all our memories" and would be defined by the EU referendum.

The UK now had "the chance to do things differently" after the vote, he said.

He said Labour would not block Brexit but would not support a deal with the EU which merely "protects the bankers in the City".

In his own end of year message to activists, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has appealed to disenchanted Labour supporters to join his party saying they are the "voice of optimism" in British politics.

Mr Corbyn began 2016 saying it would be "the start of a journey to elect a Labour government in 2020".

But he had to contend with a leadership challenge in the summer, which came after mass resignations from his front bench who were unhappy about his EU referendum campaign performance.

'Do things differently'

His New Year's message says 2017 offers everyone the chance to "start afresh", saying: "2016 will be defined in history by the referendum on our EU membership.

"People didn't trust politicians and they didn't trust the European Union. I understand that.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Farron said many people felt "anxious" about the way things were going

"I've spent over 40 years in politics campaigning for a better way of doing things, standing up for people, taking on the establishment, and opposing decisions that would make us worse off.

"We now have the chance to do things differently. To build an economy that invests and works for everyone across all our nations and regions."

Mr Corbyn has said his party will try to amend legislation if the government is forced to consult Parliament before triggering Brexit, but has said this will not mean the process being delayed.

He said Labour "accepts and respects" the referendum result, adding: "We won't be blocking our leaving the European Union, but we won't stand by.

"A Brexit that protects the bankers in the City and continues to give corporate handouts to the biggest companies is not good enough."

'Open and tolerant'

Mr Corbyn said the UK's political system was "letting down the people of this country", urging action on social care, homelessness, job security and education.

Reflecting on the challenges ahead in 2017, Mr Farron said the UK faced an "uncertain" future, with "widespread" economic insecurity, no plan for leaving the EU and an NHS and social care system was in crisis.

Mr Farron, whose Lib Dems ended the year on a high by winning the Richmond Park by-election, said his party would continue to fight for a Britain that was "open, tolerant and united".

"If you worry that the government is embarking on the most extreme, divisive version of Brexit possible, ripping us out of the single market with no regard for the impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of our fellow citizens," he said.

"If you are fed up with a Labour Party that would rather fight with itself than hold the Conservatives to account. Then join the real voice of opposition.

"Don't shrug your shoulders. Don't look the other way. Get involved... and together we can make 2017 a year for optimism."

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