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EXCL Sir Keir Starmer calls for Labour to back Remain in new EU referendum

3 min read

Sir Keir Starmer has admitted he is pushing for Labour to support Remain in any second EU referendum.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary said there were "discussions" going on between senior Labour figures in a bid to thrash out a clear position on the issue.

Labour bosses are split on whether or not to wholeheartedly back another referendum as a way of breaking the Brexit deadlock.

In the wake of the European elections, when Labour came third behind the Brexit Party and Lib Dems, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the party's candidates had been let down by the party hierarchy's refusal to explicitly support a so-called "people's vote".

She said: "We should have said quite simply that any deal that comes out of this government should be put to a confirmatory referendum and that Remain should be on the ballot paper and that Labour would campaign to Remain."

But Jeremy Corbyn has insisted that Labour is still pushing for a general election first, with a referendum on whatever Brexit deal is passed by Parliament also an option.

Speaking in an online webinar on Wednesday, Sir Keir broke ranks with his leader by saying Labour must back staying in the EU.

He said: "In the aftermath of the local elections and particularly the EU elections, there are many in the Labour party who feel we need to be very clear about a second referendum and about making the case for Remain.

"That's certainly what I'm advocating, discussions are going on at the moment, I hope we can resolve it pretty soon, and that will be a material step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned."

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, of the People's Vote campaign, said: "Keir Starmer is spot on - it's far past time for Labour to fully embrace the policy of a people's vote and to start campaigning vigorously to secure this outcome. It's very encouraging to hear him support this outcome so clearly. 

"The European elections were a real wake-up call - we are haemorrhaging support to parties that are unequivocal in their support for a People's Vote. We must listen to our voters and respond. And with the Tory leadership campaign descending into a horror-show of who can offer the most destructive vision of Brexit, it's the only way to prevent a destructive outcome for our country. 

"Labour's ambiguous position on Brexit is no longer viable - it's not right for the country or for our party. The only way to deliver a stable and lasting settlement to the Brexit question is to give the public the final say."

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