EU Referendum

Jeremy Corbyn: EU talks a 'missed opportunity'

Jeremy Corbyn

David Cameron should have focused his EU renegotiations on boosting workers' rights and ending austerity, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Mr Corbyn told a meeting of the Party of European Socialists in Brussels the talks were a "theatrical sideshow".

The Labour leader, who has been a critic of the EU, said his party would campaign for the UK to stay in whatever the outcome of the negotiations.

Mr Cameron is hoping to win support at the EU Council summit in Brussels.

If a deal is reached with other leaders, he will hold the UK's referendum on whether it wants to remain a member of the EU, with June 23 seen as the most likely date.

Mr Corbyn has also travelled to Brussels where he joined a meeting of the Party of European Socialists (PES) parliamentary bloc.

He said: "David Cameron's negotiations are a missed opportunity to make the case for the real reforms the EU needs: democratisation, stronger workers' rights, an end to austerity, and a halt to the enforced privatisation of public services."

Mr Corbyn voted to leave the European Economic Community, as the EU was then known, in the 1975 referendum, when the UK voted strongly to remain in.

During last year's Labour leadership campaign, Mr Corbyn said he had "mixed feelings" on the union and suggested there were circumstances in which he would advocate a vote to leave.

In September he confirmed Labour would campaign to stay in the EU but criticised it over free trade, agriculture and Greece.

'Rather different'

Speaking after the PES meeting, Mr Corbyn said Mr Cameron had "brought an internal Conservative Party dispute to international proportions".

He said Labour had made its backing for EU membership "very, very clear" saying this was supported by the "vast majority" of its membership.

His desired reforms, he said, were "rather different" to Mr Cameron's.

"It has to be based on the rights of people all across Europe," he said.

"I don't think David Cameron has that on his agenda."

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