Protecting bankers and corporate interests as we leave the European Union is simply ‘not good enough’ according to Jeremy Corbyn, speaking in his New Year message.
In a Brexit-heavy wrap up of 2016, the Labour leader also took a swipe at the Government’s handling of jobs, housing and health policy.
“Those in charge today have put the jobs market, housing, the NHS and social care in crisis. We can’t let them mess this up. It’s about everyone’s future,” he said.
“A Brexit that protects the bankers in the City and continues to give corporate handouts to the biggest companies is not good enough.”
Labour won’t block Article 50 – the formal process for leaving the EU – Mr Corbyn reaffirmed, and acknowledged the opportunities presented by Brexit, despite himself backing a Remain vote in June.
He said: “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 came under heavy criticism for his supposed lack of enthusiasm during the Referendum campaign as opponents pointed to his history of Euroscepticism.
The Labour leader voted against Common Market membership in 1975, but urged voters to back the EU “warts and all” in this year’s referendum.
In his New Year message Mr Corbyn also points to a lack of trust in both the Westminster and Brussels establishments – disaffection he says he empathises with.
“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. 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.”
2016 has been a turbulent year for the Labour leader. Following the Brexit vote he faced a sensational walk-out of shadow cabinet ministers and a 172-to-40 vote of no confidence by Labour MPs.
The dissent culminated in an ill-fated leadership challenge from former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith. Mr Corbyn won a convincing 62%, increasing his mandate.
But two disappointing by-election results at the tail end of the year – including the humiliating loss of deposit in Richmond Park – has put him under fresh pressure.
The coming year promises to be a challenging one for the Labour leader.
There’s the Copeland by-election where pro-Brexit constituents may opt for a more Eurosceptic Tory or even UKIP MP.
And then the commencement of official Brexit negotiations – an issue his party needs to offer strong opposition on.
Mr Corbyn hopes to ride the anti-establishment mood in the New Year, when Labour strategists will relaunch him as a left-wing populist.