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Frontbench Jeremy Corbyn ally says Labour wants second Brexit referendum and will back Remain

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Labour frontbencher Andy McDonald today became the closest ally of Jeremy Corbyn to signal that Labour wants a second referendum on Brexit and will campaign to stay in the EU.

The Shadow Transport Secretary said Britain was “looking down the barrel” of a no-deal Brexit and the only alternative was continued membership of the bloc.

But he also insisted that any Brexit deal agreed by parliament must be put back to the people.

He made the comments after the Labour party scraped a victory in the Peterborough by-election, seeing off the insurgent Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, by 683 votes.

Labour leader Mr Corbyn has previously said he wants a general election and that a referendum would be a last resort - although senior figures have been pushing him to change course.

A number of the Tory MPs fighting to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister have meanwhile insisted they will take the UK out of the EU on 13 October, deal or no deal.

Mr McDonald said no deal would mean “our economy is completely trashed,” including the destruction of the steel, car and other manufacturing industries.

“We accepted the outcome of the referendum and we would leave the EU on terms that would protect our economy. That is not now available to us,” he explained on the Radio 4 Today show.

“We have said if [no deal] is the choice before us - and indeed any deal that would come through parliament - should go back to the people; we should have a second vote.”

He added: “We went into the referendum on a remain and reform platform. If we are looking at crashing out with no deal the option is to remain.”

The near-loss to the Brexit Party last night comes after Labour was shaken by the European Parliament elections last month.

In that vote, the party came third after the Brexit Party and the pro-Remain Lib Dems, while the Conservatives slumped to fifth place behind the Greens.

As the results came in, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry heaped blame on Mr Corbyn for refusing to give his full-throated support for a second referendum.

Mr Corbyn himself said the party was "ready to support a public vote on any deal" - although he still maintained his preference for a general election.

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