Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a scathing attack against his own side of the EU referendum campaign on Thursday (2 June 2016) at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London. In his speech on the EU, Corbyn branded some anti-Brexit arguments as "prophecies of doom" and undermined Chancellor George Osborne's warning that the UK could fall into a year-long recession after a 'Leave' vote at the 23 June ballot.
"This is the same George Osborne who predicted his austerity policies would close the deficit by 2015. That's now scheduled for 2021," the left-winger declared.
"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."
Corbyn was also critical of Boris Johnson and Vote Leave, claiming the Brexit campaign had "concocted a number of myths" of the EU, but most of his speech was spent outlining a qualified 'Remain' argument and attacking the Conservatives.
In particular, Corbyn torpedoed David Cameron's environmental case for a 'Remain' vote at the referendum just hours before the prime minister was expected to make his own major speech on the issue.
"Too often the British government has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into acting to protect our own environment," the Labour leader said. "As we know, we have a prime minister who has lurched from 'hug a husky' when he became Tory leader to, a decade on, 'gas a badger' and 'poison the bees'."
Corbyn sought to differentiate himself from the Conservatives, who are backing Britain Stronger In Europe, throughout the address and promised to veto the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) if Labour gained power at the 2020 general election.
The left-winger also pledged to renationalise Britain's railways, a commitment that won Corbyn a loud round of applause at the institute and a subtle message to rail unions the RMT and Aslef backing a 'Leave' vote at the referendum.
The media also came under attack from Corbyn and Labour's In for Britain-supporting audience, who booed and hissed at the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg after she introduced herself. The Labour leader, a former secretary of the NUJ's Parliamentary Group, failed to condemn the hecklers.
Elsewhere, Corbyn addressed immigration, an issue that consistently ranks as a top concern among the UK electorate.
"We cannot deny the inevitable; we live in a smaller world. Most of us in Britain know someone who has studied, worked or retired abroad. We have reciprocal arrangements with the EU. Our citizens, well over one million of them, live in other EU countries and EU citizens come to live and work here," the Labour leader said.
"But it is not that simple, I've already talked about how some industries are affected by the undercutting of wages and the action that can be taken to tackle that. But some communities can change dramatically and rapidly and that can be disconcerting for some people. That doesn't make them Little Englanders, xenophobes or racists.
"More people living in an area can put real pressure on local services like GPs surgeries, schools and housing. This isn't the fault of migrants. It's a failure of government."