Labour leader challenger Owen Smith: Britain could reapply to the EU after Brexit

Owen smith
Owen Smith appearing on the Andrew Marr Show. Screengrab/BBC

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith has hinted he could push for Britain to reapply for European Union membership after Brexit if he wins power.

Asked what he would do if he won power in 2020 and Britain was already out of the EU, Smith told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:

“I think it’s very hard to answer. If at that point we’d gone into a further recession, if we had the prospect of another 10 years of Tory austerity, if they’re saying the price for us staying out is opening up the NHS to private sector competition, it is worse terms and conditions — more flexibility and less red tape as the Tories would dub it — then I think the sensible thing is to say we’re better off in the European Union.”

Asked directly by Marr is this meant reapplying, Smith said: “Hypothetically… We are getting into hypotheticals on hypotheticals.”

Marr was questioning Smith on what he would do as Labour leader if Britain leaves the EU before he gets a chance to win power. Smith has said he supports a second referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, saying: “Once we know what the deal is, that’s the point at which you have another democratic opportunity.” But Marr said it was highly unlikely Smith would be able to do anything given Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain will trigger Article 50 next year.

Smith reaffirmed his commitment to the EU, saying: “I’m an internationalist, a collaborator, a cooperator. I want Britain to be part of the European Union.”

Smith, the MP for Pontypridd, is currently challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership and is the only candidate standing against him.

Polls and bookie odds suggest current leader Corbyn will romp home with the victory, but when asked how confident he was he could win on a scale of 1 to 10, Smith told Marr: “Oh, 10. Absolutely. Never say 7 and a half.”

The result of the election will be announced at Labour’s conference on September 24.

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