1. ITV Report

Labour and a second Brexit referendum: What does it all mean?

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party will back a second referendum. Credit: PA

The Labour Party has announced it will be prepared to back a second referendum if its withdrawal plan is rejected by MPs this week.

The party will either table or support an amendment for a "People's Vote" on the UK's departure from the European Union.

Backing the vote is a departure from Labour's previous standing, in its last manifesto it said it supported the outcome of the EU referendum.

  • What has Jeremy Corbyn said about a second referendum?

The Labour leader has said he would put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote to stop Theresa May’s deal being “forced on the country” – if the party’s own Brexit demands are not met.

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He will first seek to enshrine the party’s five Brexit demands in law by tabling an amendment to the Government’s motion this week.

If the plan is rejected, Labour will support a second referendum.

  • Is this a shift in Labour policy?

Labour has previously distanced itself from backing a second referendum, and its general election manifesto in 2017 accepted the result of the 2016 vote.

Former Labour frontbencher Owen Smith was sacked last year over his support for a second referendum.

The former shadow secretary for Northern Ireland tweeted on Monday a public vote on the deal would have his backing.

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Corbyn has come under pressure from pro-EU MPs to throw the party’s weight behind a second referendum, and at the Labour Party conference in September, party delegates voted to keep the option of a second vote on the table.

Some say the Labour leader’s latest move is an attempt to stop further defections following last week’s Labour split.

Jeremy Corbyn will support a second referendum. Credit: PA
  • What reaction have MPs had to the change of thinking?

The announcement was met with divided opinion among Labour’s own MPs.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said: "If Theresa May won't accept our deal, then the public must decide."

Her comments came in a fiery tweet where she hit back at criticism she has misspoken on Labour policy in several interviews.

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David Lammy, a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, said a public vote would bring a “decisive mandate to move forward”.

But Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley, said the party was in danger of overturning the election promise to respect the 2016 referendum result.

“We can’t ignore millions of Labour Leave voters,” she tweeted. “There are Labour MPs like me who will not support a second ref.”

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Lucy Powell, the MP for Manchester Central, said she “remained to be convinced,” on supporting a second referendum, predicting around 25 of her colleagues would not vote for it.

John Mann, whose Bassetlaw constituency voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU, demanded Corbyn reverse his decision to support a second referendum.

His constituency is among those with the strongest backing for Brexit, 67.8 per cent of voters said the UK should Leave.

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  • What would Labour want to be on the ballot paper if there was a second referendum?

It is not clear what the question put to the public could be, but a Labour source heavily hinted a Remain option would be on the ballot paper in a second vote.

A briefing paper reportedly given to Labour MPs said any referendum would need to have “a credible Leave option and Remain”.

Chuka Umunna, who left the party to join the newly-formed Independent Group, questioned what the question put to voters may be.

The long-standing people's vote supporter said Labour's announcement is “better late than never."

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