Labour to back second referendum on Brexit, party announces

Labour is backing a second referendum on Brexit, the party has announced.

In a statement, the party said it would either table or support an amendment on Tuesday calling for a second 'people's vote'.

Labour will also back an amendment taking no-deal off the table, the party said on Monday, along with endorsing a new referendum.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will tell his MPs: "The Prime Minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous No Deal. We cannot and will not accept.

"Last week, after our visit to talk to EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid, no one can be in any doubt Labour's alternative Brexit plan is serious and credible. We are convinced our alternative, which puts jobs and living standards first, could command support in the House of Commons, bring people who voted Leave and Remain together, and be negotiated with the EU.

"That's why we will be putting down an amendment in parliament this week setting out Labour's plan: for a comprehensive customs union with a UK say; close alignment with the single market; guarantees on rights and standards; protection for Britain's role in EU agencies; and a security agreement which guarantees access to the European arrest warrant and vital shared databases. And we will be calling for legislation to underpin this mandate.

"We will also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a No Deal outcome. One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent No Deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May's overwhelmingly rejected deal.

"That's why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country."

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According to a brief sent to Labour MPs, "credible" Leave and Remain options would appear on a ballot.

The brief indicated that "no deal" would not feature on its intended ballot.

"What's on the ballot paper would of course be decided by Parliament," the brief read.

"But there's no majority for a no-deal outcome, and Labour would not countenance supporting no-deal as an option.

"What we are calling for is a referendum to confirm a Brexit deal, not to proceed to no deal."

Some within the party have greeted the news with caution and are waiting for the full details to be revealed.

Before any House of Commons vote on a referendum, Labour will put forward their version of a deal, which almost certainly will be rejected in Parliament.

Upon that being voted against, then the party will instigate their support for a second referendum.

It is seen that the announcement is an attempt to appease Labour MPs who were considering joining those who have recently quit the party to become part of The Independent Group.

One member of TIG, Luciana Berger, tweeted: "This. Is. Not. A. New. Announcement. And yet there are just 23 working days to go until #Brexit."

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham and a supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said: "It is welcome news that the Labour Party is now, at long last, signalling it will accept the principle of giving the public the final say on Brexit.

David Lammy supports a 'people's vote'. Credit: PA

"Even if MPs can agree some sort of deal, it would be wrong to force it on the British people when we now know so many of the promises made in 2016 have been broken and any deal will be worse than the one we've already got inside the EU.

"These are dangerous times for the Labour Party and our country. Jeremy Corbyn is today taking the first step to reunite our party by showing he is listening to our voters and members on this, the biggest issue of our time. But it is also crucial when food prices are already rising and car manufacturers are scrapping investment that we provide the clarity needed to plan for the future."

The Liberal Democrats have already been campaigning for a People's Vote, their leader Sir Vince Cable said in a statement: "We welcome this news, this could be a defining moment in the Liberal Democrat campaign for a People's Vote.

"My party will work with Labour and others to secure a People's Vote with an option to remain.

"We have long argued it is the right and logical thing to do for the people to have the final say on Brexit.

"We welcome any MPs who share this crucial aim."

Labour will also set out its five demands for any potential Brexit deal on Tuesday. These are:

  • A permanent and comprehensive customs union with the EU

  • Close alignment with the Single Market underpinned by shared institutions and obligations

  • Dynamic alignment on rights and protections

  • Commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, including in areas such as the environment, education, and industrial regulation

  • Unambiguous agreements on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases