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Why the exit of the Labour Seven may lessen Corbyn’s scepticism about a people’s vote

The Independent Group has broken away from the Labour Party. Credit: PA

What a day.

Seven anti-Corbyn Labour MPs quit Labour because...they’ve lost all hope of reclaiming their party, ever.

And Honda prepares to rip the heart out of manufacturing in the south west with the imminent announcement it will be closing its car plant in Swindon.

Both events will have a profound impact on what kind of Brexit, if any, we will get.

Against my initial assessment, the departure of Luciana Berger, Chuka Ummuna, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith, Ann Coffey and Gavin Shuker may actually lessen the hostility to a people’s vote from Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-referendum aides and allies, the four “Ms” Murphy, Milne, Murray and McCluskey.

How so?

Well those who remain in Labour pushing for a referendum, like Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, should presumably be less vulnerable to the Corbynista charge that they are using the push for a people’s vote as a fiendish Blairite cover to usurp the Great Leader Corbyn.

So just maybe there will be a more open and less mistrustful debate in the shadow cabinet about how to honour Labour’s notorious conference motion that retains the option of a referendum as a last resort.

Jeremy Corbyn (left) might have something to do now that Chuka Umunna ( Credit: PA

What is striking is the way the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer and the deputy leader Tom Watson have all warmed to Kyle and Wilson’s proposal - which would be for Labour to offer to support whatever reworked Brexit deal May finally brings back to the Commons for a vote on the condition that this deal is put to the people in a referendum for final ratification (with the option to remain in the EU as the other choice).

Their hope is that this compromise would reassure Labour Brexiters that the party is not hanging them out to dry.

Hmmm. Not sure that’ll work.

But on the other hand the Honda closure will highlight the risks for some Brexiters of a hard no-deal Brexit - because even if Brexit is not to directly to blame for this tragic disinvestment, the reputational damage for other multinationals considering whether and how to shrink in the UK will be lessened by Honda as first mover and lightening rod for opprobrium.

So the chances are that the coincidence of the departures of Honda and the Labour Seven will increase pressure for a Brexit deal that lessens costs for exporting manufacturers and may even boost the chances of a referendum.