UK Labour hopes to paper over Brexit splits for united front

Leader Jeremy Corbyn has a golden opportunity to capitalise on Prime Minister Theresa May's weakness after European Union leaders rejected her Brexit plans on Thursday.

UK Labour hopes to paper over Brexit splits for united front

Britain's Labour Party kicked off its annual conference on Sunday hoping to prove it was ready to unseat the embattled Conservative government despite its own splits on Brexit and rows over anti-Semitism.But he must first ensure that his party's internal tensions take a back seat to bolster his image as a prime-minister-in-waiting.

"The sheer levels of animosity that exists between Corbyn and his opponents is quite remarkable," Anand Menon, political professor at King's College London, told AFP ahead of the four-day event in Liverpool.

Brexit is one of the fault lines, dividing even normal allies. 

Most of Corbyn's MPs and his younger supporters are in favour of the EU, but many voters in the party's working-class heartlands back Brexit.

Corbyn has so far tried to avoid the divisive subject, instead sticking to promoting a domestic social agenda that helped him upset the odds at last year's general election and strip May of her parliamentary majority.

But with Brexit negotiations rapidly heading nowhere as the March 29 deadline looms, party members look set to force a debate and a vote on the conference floor pushing for a second referendum.

Corbyn said on Sunday he would "adhere" to whatever came out of conference, although he would prefer to hold a general election instead.

"This government doesn't look very strong," he told the BBC.

"We could well be looking towards a general election and you know what? We are ready for it."

Pro-EU supporters are due to hold a large march as the conference opens on Sunday, calling for a second vote.

Corbyn will likely stick to his tried-and-tested method when he delivers his keynote speech on Wednesday, according to experts, prioritising efforts to bring down the government rather than trying to stop Brexit.

Corbyn said on Sunday he voted to "remain and reform the EU" in the 2016 referendum on Brtain's EU membership.