Jeremy Corbyn insisted that he voted to remain in the European Union (EU) as Labour leadership challenger, Owen Smith, refused to back down on the issue. Smith accused the leader of the Opposition of being happy about the Brexit vote as he continued to place the issue at the heart of his campaign.
The only hustings event to take place in Scotland on Thursday (25 August) saw bad-tempered exchanges between the pair. Im not even sure that Jeremy did vote in in the EU referendum, Smith said in a blunt attack on Corbyn. One reason why Jeremy can be so complacent and passive about this is that hes happy about the result, he added.
Corbyn hit back at Smith, accusing him of failing to act like a grown up during the debate. He told his opponent and the audience: Owen you know perfectly well what the answer is â€“ that I voted Remain and Im surprised that you even raised this question.
As applause rang out among audience members, Corbyn added: The only people who raised this question at the time were the Daily Mail.
Smith said he was gutted by the outcome of the EU referendum and that he was prepared to fight Brexit by opposing a vote to invoke Article 50 in parliament using absolutely every vehicle possible.
Hes not bothered about the result, said Smith. If hes so concerned about protecting workers rights, why on earth would we allow the Tories to implement a Brexit deal which is going to see workers rights in this country sold down the river? He didnt fight hard last time round. I will. he added.
The Labour leader said that while the result of the EU referendum was not one which he wanted, the vote had to be respected.
Smith issued a warning over the fate of the party, saying that unless Corbyn was replaced, the party could face a split. He insisted that he is Labour till I die and would not play a role in any potential party divide.
A key issue during the hustings event in Glasgow was Labours poor performance north of the border after the party was beaten into third place by the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Conservatives in Mays Holyrood election. In a blunt assessment of Corbyn, Smith told the Labour leader: Weve gone backwards on your watch in Scotland.
Smith continued: People in Scotland cannot look to Labour in Westminster right now and anticipate us winning a general election, therefore we are ill serving the Scottish Labour party and we are ill serving the people of Scotland.
We need to get back to being a radical and credible government-in-waiting, and we need to be much more powerful in attacking the Tories.
Corbyn promised greater investment if Labour wins the next general election in 2020. He accused the SNP of pretending to adopt the clothes of Labour, suggesting the party is pushing a programme of austerity.
The reality is something very, very different, of what they do in their economic strategy. And that surely is something that has to be challenged in the Scottish Parliament, said Corbyn.