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Remain campaign has been accused of being at 'war with itself'

From left Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel visit Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson, Lancashire, to campaign on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/Press Association
Sam Lister and Emma Clark, Press Association§

THE Remain campaign has been accused of being at "war with itself" after Jeremy Corbyn rubbished George Osborne's Brexit recession warnings.

The Labour leader launched an attack on the government for the way it has tried to win over voters, dismissing the chancellor's "prophecies of doom" about the economic fallout if the Britain left the EU.

Leave campaigners said the remain side is now in "chaos", after Mr Corbyn's attempt to set out the "positive case" for remaining in the European Union.

In a speech in London, Mr Corbyn said: "In the final stage of this referendum, as we get closer to what is expected by many to be a very tight vote, it does not help the debate over such a serious issue if the hype and histrionic claims continue or worse intensify."

He added: "Just over a week ago, George Osborne claimed that the British economy would enter a year-long recession if we voted to leave. This is the same George Osborne who predicted his austerity policies would close the deficit by 2015. That's now scheduled for 2021.

"It's the same George Osborne who said the British economy would be 'carried aloft by the march of the makers', yet the manufacturing sector has stagnated ever since – and manufacturing employment declined.

"The biggest risk of recession in this country is from a Conservative government that is failing – failing on the deficit, failing on the debt, failing to rebalance the economy and failing to boost productivity."

Mr Corbyn denied that his attack on the treasury would blur the lines on where Labour stands in the campaign.

Questioned after his speech over whether his focus on the Tories instead of the case for Remain was "muddying the waters" for Labour supporters, he said: "No, I don't think it is at all.

"I think there is a distinctive view we take. We obviously disagree with the economic strategy being pursued by this government.

"We are putting the case, which I put this morning and every day by Labour Party members and supporters all over the country."

It came after senior backbencher Mary Creagh earlier urged the party to step up its campaigning amid signs that core Labour supporters still do not know what its position is on Europe.

But Arron Banks, co-chairman of Leave.EU, said the Remain campaign was "at war with itself".

"The constant scaremongering of the In campaign is plunging it into chaos, as reluctant remainers like Corbyn feel obliged to disassociate themselves from the desperate, hysterical scaremongering of the Osborne Treasury and the rent-seeking yes-men in discredited organisations like the IMF (International Monetary Fund)

"Corbyn, who was publicly opposed to the EU himself until very recently, knows his credibility would have been destroyed if he had backed up Osborne on his absurd forecasts," he said.

Tory Brexiteer James Cleverly also mocked the Labour leader for not fully backing the EU.

He tweeted: "So #Corbyn speech highly critical of the EU and then he says "we should stay in" and people think his heart's not in it. I wonder why?"

Mr Corbyn said Labour would push for reforms in the EU, including to strengthen workers' rights, deal with the migration crisis and "democratise" institutions in Brussels.

The prime minister must now reject proposals to ease trade between the US and the EU – known as the Transatlantic trade and investment Partnership (Ttip), he said.

"David Cameron, make clear now that, if Britain votes to remain this month, you will block any Ttip trade treaty that threatens our public services, our consumer and employment rights and that hands over power to giant corporations to override democratically elected governments," he said.

"The EU's state aid rules, which limit the scope for governments to intervene to support our vital industries, also need to change. But so does how British governments interpret them. The steel crisis highlighted how Germany, Italy, France and Spain all did much better at protecting their steel industries."

He added: "We have to have a serious discussion not deal with the whole thing on a basis of a fear agenda on either side.

"I've made the case, I hope I've made it as well as I can, that Labour's supporting Remain.

"But it's not an unconditional support for everything the European Union does and it's a quite clear agenda of how we want to see this continent develop differently and how we would work with like-minded people across Europe."

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