Jeremy Corbyn unveiled his team of Brexit negotiators, moving to dispel accusations by Prime Minister Theresa May that his Labour Party isn’t prepared for Brexit talks starting soon after next week’s general election.
Days after May said Corbyn would be “alone and naked” in the negotiating chamber, the party leader announced that his spokespeople on Brexit, foreign affairs and international trade — Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and Barry Gardiner — would sit at the negotiating table. He repeated the word “ready,” and criticized May’s “reckless” approach to Brexit.
“Labour is ready: ready to deliver a deal that gives British businesses and society a chance to thrive,” Corbyn said on Thursday at an election rally in Pitsea, east of London. “On June 19, Labour will be ready: ready to negotiate a Brexit for the many and not for the few. That’s my promise.”
Labour has closed the gap on the Conservatives in the past 10 days, trailing by as few as 3 points in the polls, down from as many as 24 points in the early days of the election. A YouGov projection in the Times earlier this week even envisaged a scenario leading to a hung Parliament.
May called the election in April, saying she wanted the electorate to strengthen her hand for the Brexit negotiations. “She may be regretting that decision,” Corbyn said.
The choice of location was ambitious for Labour, which placed third behind the Conservatives and the U.K. Independence Party in the parliamentary seat, South Basildon and East Thurrock, in 2015. The area is also one of the most pro-Brexit in the country.
After attacking Corbyn repeatedly in the past week, May on Thursday delivered a speech in northeast England during which she mentioned her Labour opponent just once –- in an apparent effort to inject a more positive style into her campaign.
“Brexit is not a process, but an opportunity,” May said. “It is this generation’s chance to shape a brighter future for our country. So I want us to work together to fulfill the promise of Brexit too. Because if we get Brexit right, then together we can do great things.”