UK's Corbyn says he can't imagine campaigning for 'Brexit'

UK's Corbyn says he can't imagine campaigning for 'Brexit'

LONDON - Reuters
UKs Corbyn says he cant imagine campaigning for Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party takes part in his first Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in Westminster, London, September 16, 2015. REUTERS photo

Britain's newly elected opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he cannot imagine his Labour Party campaigning to leave the European Union at an upcoming referendum, easing fears that he would force the party to adopt a eurosceptic position. 

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership and plans to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether to remain in or leave. 

Since Corbyn won an election to lead Labour on Sept. 12, his party has sent mixed messages on how it would campaign in the referendum, with senior figures adopting seemingly conflicting positions. 

Despite a heavy election defeat in May, Labour remains influential in northern England and Wales and could be key to deciding whether Britons vote to remain inside the bloc. 

Asked in a BBC interview whether he could imagine a situation where Labour was campaigning to leave the EU, Corbyn said: "No, I don't see that position." 

"What I was opposed to, and I remain opposed to, is the idea that David Cameron could go around Europe and give up workers' rights, and give up environmental protection, give up a whole load of things that are very important," he said. 

A survey by the pollster ICM on Tuesday showed that 43 percent of voters favoured staying in, 40 percent would opt to leave, and 17 percent were undecided. 

Corbyn said he wants to see Europe pursuing a more social agenda rather than becoming a free-market haven. That position potentially puts him at odds with the reforms Cameron is seeking, which include restricting migrants' access to benefits and reducing barriers to trade in the single EU market. 

Corbyn said that if he didn't like the reforms Cameron won he would oppose them and campaign to stay in the bloc in order to change those policies. 

"That would be a manifesto commitment up to 2020," he said, referring to the next scheduled national election.