Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn took aim at the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on Thursday, saying he would kill the controversial U.S. and EU trade deal should he become prime minister.
His comments came during a speech in London campaigning to remain in the EU just three weeks ahead of the Brexit referendum, which Corbyn has framed as an "era-defining moment" for workers' rights.
"Many thousands of people have written to me, with their concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) the deal being negotiated, largely in secret, between the U.S. and the EU," he said in his speech in London.
"Many people are concerned rightly that it could open up public services to further privatization—and make privatization effectively irreversible," he added. "Others are concerned about any potential watering down of consumer rights, food safety standards, rights at work or environmental protections, and the facility for corporations to sue national governments if regulations impinged on their profits," he said, referring to ISDS tribunals.
He also referenced French President François Hollande's signaling his opposition to the deal last month, adding, "So today we give this pledge, as it stands, we too would reject TTIP—and veto it in Government."
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Corbyn's promise to reject the TTIP comes amidst plummeting support for the deal in Germany and the U.S. as well, and follows a leak by Greenpeace of the deal's negotiating text showing that it amounts to "a huge transfer of power from people to big business."
According to Nick Dearden, director of the UK-based social justice organization Global Justice Now, "It's not surprising that Jeremy Corbyn has come out against TTIP when the toxic trade deal would have so many terrible consequences for consumer protections, labour rights and the environment."
"It’s true that TTIP has provoked many people to veer towards voting for Brexit, but progressive MEPs and civil society from across Europe have been instrumental in getting to the point now where the defeat of the deal is a real possibility. Left to their own devices, the free-market fundamentalists of the UK would waste no time in cooking up something even more odious than the EU-U.S. deal," Dearden said.
Regarding the Brexit referendum voters face June 23, new polls released by the Guardian this week found a narrow majority of voters in favor of leaving the EU.