As the country basks in the sunshine of a long-weekend, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been busy in Lisbon, apparently taking advantage of a two-day meeting of the Council of European Socialists to meet with Prime Minister António Costa and give at least two unsubstantiated pledges.
According to Bloomberg financial news website, Corbyn “hinted that he could be open to holding a second referendum on Brexit as the consequences of leaving the European Union become clearer”.
But Bloomberg’s source for this ‘hint’ is not immediately clear.
The story put out earlier today simply says: “Asked if he was prepared to rule out a second vote … Corbyn said his party hasn’t fixed its position on the issue”.
Bloomberg added that “Britain’s main opposition party is trying to portray itself as a government-in-waiting after gaining seats in June’s general election and stripping Prime Minister Theresa May of her majority.
“Since going into that vote with a Brexit strategy similar to May’s Conservatives, Labour has diverged in recent months, saying it would keep open the options of remaining in the single market and customs union, both of which the premier has ruled out”.
Corbyn is quoted as telling journalists: “If we were in government, we would immediately legislate to guarantee British residence to all European Union nationals that live and work in Britain, and the right to bring their families to Britain as well.
“We will negotiate the issues of relations with Europe on the basis of a free-trade relationship with Europe”.
Portugal’s Diário de Notícias appears not to have noticed the ‘hint’ about a second referendum highlighting instead Corbyn’s pledge not to turn the UK into a European fiscal paradise “when his government is returned”.
An election win seemingly forecast by DN will see a British Socialist government that was “interventionist in the economy”, working with other European Socialist parties to “guarantee economic growth… for everyone”.
This has all been taking place at the same time as Portugal’s Finance Minister Mário Centeno has been hailed (by numerous sources) as the “favourite to take over leadership of the Eurogroup”.
A secret ballot to choose the financial group’s leader will be taking place on Monday, says the Financial Times.
But back to Corbyn and that pledge not to turn the UK into a fiscal paradise – again, other than stating it, there seems to be no further back-up. DN states that he said it will not happen, adding, in an apparent non-sequitur, that Corbyn “defended the increase of taxes on multinationals and large fortunes so that investment could be made in social areas like housing, health and education”.
The Council of European Socialists convened in Lisbon last night (Friday) to “discuss the future of Europe and decide the process of choosing a candidate for the presidency of the European Commission” (in the next elections in 2019).
Also on the agenda was “the situation in the Balkans, solidarity policies in the EU, the combat of tax evasion, fake news and populism and the adoption of a progressive approach to the environment”, adds DN.