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Emily Thornberry: Any Brexit deal should be put to the people in another referendum

Emily Thornberry: Any Brexit deal should be put to the people in another referendum
3 min read

Any Brexit deal struck between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn must be put to the voters in a referendum, Emily Thornberry has said.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said any compromise agreement thrashed out between her party and the Government would be "controversial" - and accused MPs fearful of a new public poll of "misunderstanding" how people had voted in 2016.

Speaking at the recording of a Politico podcast, Ms Thornberry said: "The question will be - is this what anybody wants? Or do we end up with a compromise that just makes everybody unhappy?”

She added: "I think whatever it is, it will be controversial.

"And I think that in those circumstances, it’s right for us to be saying to the British people: 'During that referendum, did you vote for this? Do you want this? When you said you wanted to leave, did you want to leave like this?'"

Asked whether the promise of a new referendum should be tacked on to any deal put to Parliament in a vote, the Shadow Foreign Secretary said: "I think that the two things need to go hand in hand."

Her call comes amid deep division in Labour over a second referendum, with 25 MPs writing to Jeremy Corbyn last week to warn that another poll would "divide the country further" and shatter the trust of Leave-supporting voters.

But 80 MPs put their names to a separate joint letter over the weekend saying it would be "untenable" for the party to back any compromise Brexit deal that did not include a second referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn is also reluctant to back a second referendum in all circumstances, saying it should only happen to prevent "a damaging Tory Brexit or a no-deal outcome".

Ms Thornberry suggested Labour MPs who did not see the case for a referendum had made a "fundamental misunderstanding" of their voters.

"Sometimes people think that they come from a ‘Leave seat’ and a ‘Leave seat’ might be a seat where 65 percent of the population in the referendum voted to leave," she said.

"But the reality for a Labour MP is that if 65% voted to leave, what proportion of the 35 percent, the Remainers, voted Labour?"

Ms Thornberry added: "I think it’s important sometimes for people to kind of just remember and to segment their vote and to remember that the vast majority of Labour voters want to remain."

But appearing on Radio Four's Today programme, Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said a second referendum should only take place in limited circumstances.

He said: "If our proposition was to be accepted in its totality, I think the argument for a public vote in those circumstances reduces."


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