The man expected to win control of Britain’s opposition Labour Party said on Thursday that he voted ‘No’ to Britain’s membership of the forerunner to the European Union in a 1975 referendum.
Labour supporters are selecting a leader whose first major test will be to steer the 115-year-old party through a referendum on Britain’s EU membership by the end of 2017 ahead of a national election in 2020.
In 1975, Britons were asked “Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?” They voted 67 to 33 to stay in.
When asked by a Reuters reporter at a campaign rally in North London how he voted in the 1975 referendum, Jeremy Corbyn said: “I did vote and I voted ‘No’.”
Corbyn, who wants to return Labour to its socialist roots, is the frontrunner for the leadership of the party after its electoral defeat in the May election. The new leader is due to be announced on Saturday.
Earlier this month, the leader of the UK Independence Party, which leads the charge for getting Britain out of the European Union, invited Mr Corbyn to share a platform and a stage with him as he embarks on a country-wide “Say No to EU” tour.
Nigel Farage wrote in the Telegraph:
I’ve been watching the Labour leadership contest closely for this very reason. As someone who has held more than a thousand public meetings all over the country, I think Jeremy Corbyn’s sweeping emergence on the Left of British politics, where he has helped re-engage many who had given up on politics, is a good thing for our democracy. For a while I thought I was alone in seeing the merits in reaching out and energising those left behind by Westminster politics.
In Mr Corbyn, Labour finally has a potential leader unwilling to sign up to the corporatist, bullying EU agenda in the usual unquestioning manner which we saw from Blair, Brown and Miliband. Though I disagree with Mr Corbyn on virtually every issue, on this one issue of the EU I believe there may be common ground.
Because you know what? When I’m told that I might see some economic benefit in exchange for an uncontrolled surge in population, I argue that there is more to the well-being of a nation than just money. We need to care about how EU membership affects our quality of life. We need to be aware of how our communities are being affected by all of this. I believe Mr Corbyn may get this too.
Original report by Reuters