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Mon, 21 September 2020

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Ian Lavery rounds on Keir Starmer over second referendum as Labour splits on Brexit erupt

Ian Lavery rounds on Keir Starmer over second referendum as Labour splits on Brexit erupt
2 min read

Ian Lavery has attacked Keir Starmer over his support for a referendum on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

The Labour chairman accused his frontbench colleague of defying party policy by backing a plan by backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, who say the withdrawal agreement should be put back to the country in a so-called "confirmatory referendum".

He was supported by Diane Abbott and Dan Carden, who also spoke out against the Kyle-Wilson plan during an ill-tempered meeting of the Shadow Cabinet on Tuesday morning.

PoliticsHome has learned that Mr Lavery accused Sir Keir, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, of trying to "ram down my throat" his support for a referendum before a general election.

The Wansbeck MP supports holding a general election first, with Labour putting its own Brexit deal to a referendum within six months if it forms the next government.

It is unclear what Sir Keir said in response to Mr Lavery's comments.

One Shadow Cabinet source said: "No one else mentioned Kyle-Wilson apart from Lavery, Diane and Carden. Everyone just assumed we were supporting it."

Another frontbencher who witnessed the clash said: "Ian was very shouty and angry."

It is understood the Shadow Cabinet did not reach an agreed position on the timing of a referendum at the meeting.

MPs are expected to debate calls for a second public vote if the Withdrawal Agreement Bill makes it to committee stage in the Commons.

Labour's official policy remains that a referendum should take place to stop a "Tory Brexit" or no-deal, with the option to remain also on the ballot paper.

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