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Anger as Labour European election leaflets fail to mention second referendum

Anger as Labour European election leaflets fail to mention second referendum
3 min read

Labour frontbenchers have reacted with fury after the party produced European election leaflets without any mention of a second referendum.

The literature, intended for dustribution in the run-up to the 23 May poll, only pledges that a Labour government would seek "a better deal with Europe" without mentioning the possibility that Brexit may not happen.

At last year's Labour conference in Liverpool, delegates unanimously backed a motion pledging the party to back a so-called "people's vote" if they could not force a general election.

Since then, deep splits have emerged among shadow ministers over the precise circumstances in which another referendum could take place.

Jeremy Corbyn and his allies believe a new poll should only happen to avoid a "Tory Brexit" or no-deal, while others - such as deputy leader Tom Watson and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer - believe any deal passed by the Commons should be put to the public in a confirmatory ballot.

But the glossy election leaflets, copies of which have been passed to PoliticsHome, only say: "The Tories' chaotic handling of Brexit has left our country in crisis.

"With Labour, Britain will have a proper say in future trade deals and businesses wouldn't have to pay to trade with Europe.

"Labour will keep a close relationship with the EU and protect workers' rights."

The rest of the leaflets make no mention of the EU, focusing instead on Labour's domestic agenda.

It is understood that the Shadow Cabinet were not given the chance to read the leaflets before they were drawn up.

On senior Labour frontbencher said: "It's impossible to see how this can be signed off before we take a manifesto position."

A party source added: "The Labour manifesto is agreed next week and it must include the commitment to a confirmatory vote on any parliamentary deal as is Labour policy. This leaflet is just more fudge.

"There is no better Brexit and these leaflets are sticking two fingers up to Labour MPs, MEPs and members."

A source in the campaign for a second referendum told PoliticsHome: "Not only is this material out of step with what the vast majority of Labour members and supporters want, who as we know they overwhelmingly support a confirmatory public vote on Brexit, but it's also wrongheaded because Labour MEPs will not be responsible for negotiating any Brexit deal with the EU."

A Labour spokesman said: “This is a short pre-manifesto leaflet to introduce our candidates and set out our commitment to Leave and Remain voters to bring our country together.

“It highlights how the Tories’ chaotic handling of Brexit has left our country in crisis and how our MEPs will fight for proper investment in communities, housing, jobs and industries. Our full manifesto, which will address the issues of a Brexit deal and the circumstances of a referendum, will be published after the local elections."

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