Labour is “very, very ready” for a general election if a snap vote is called after the EU referendum, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
The Labour leader said the party was focused on making the case against against austerity, and that that if internal divides within the Conservatives became too great, Labour would be prepared for any resulting election at a speech in Manchester today.
“It’s not up to me to intrude on private grief within the Tory party. We will have to see what happens on Friday.
“All I know is the position we’re going to be putting is one that I outlined today – is one of improving living standards and challenging the whole austerity budget.
“If the Government can’t continue forever and it needs to somehow or other navigate around the fixed term parliament act in order to have a general election a little sooner… all I can say is we’re very, very ready for that.”
During his speech, Corbyn urged voters to choose Remain to protect jobs, trade and workers rights.
He was joined by Labour In chief Alan Johnson, who used the opportunity to celebrate Labour’s internationalist heritage.
“Keir Hardie’s Labour Party was the first political party in this country to campaign for women’s suffrage. It was and is a party of internationalism and solidarity,” Johnson told those assembled at the People’s History Museum.
“The stakes in this referendum are highest for those in our country that have the least. Those who need the protection that the social dimension of the EU offers through rights to paid holiday, rest breaks and control of working hours.
“The agency workers directive and the Information Consultation Directive fought for not just by trade unionists in Britain but across our continent.
“There are those who say that when the last referendum was held on membership of what was then the European Economic Community, we only voted for a Common Market. Not True.
“I was a postman back then in 1975. I delivered the leaflets on both sides in that referendum. Here’s what the Yes leaflet said on page 4 in relation to what that vote was about:
‘To bring together the peoples of Europe, To raise living standards and improve working conditions, To promote growth and boost world trade To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world, To help maintain peace and freedom.’
“That vision is as relevant today 41 years later. Jeremy and I as baby boomers are part of the first generation of men who were not sent off to fight a war on European soil.”
Corbyn and Johnson’s appearance comes as the final poster from Britain Stronger in Europe is unveiled. It urges voters to choose the EU as a Leave vote beckons a permanent exit from the bloc.
Final rallies are being held across the country, with former leaders Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband attending events in Glasgow and London this evening.