Sat, 12 June 2021

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Labour Brexit splits erupt over MPs' bid for second EU referendum

Labour Brexit splits erupt over MPs' bid for second EU referendum

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Fresh Labour splits on Brexit have burst into the open after a Shadow Cabinet member attacked a bid to secure a second EU referendum.

Barry Gardiner said a proposal by his party colleagues Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson to put any deal passed by the Commons to a public vote was incompatible with party policy.

That was despite Mr Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, earlier insisting the party have assured him they were supporting the move.

Adding to the confusion, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said he backed the idea, while party officials insisted no final decision had been made on whether their MPs would be whipped to vote for it on Wednesday afternoon.

But speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Shadow International Trade Secretary Mr Gardiner said: "I think it’s not where our policy has been.

“Our policy is clearly that we would support a public vote to stop no-deal or to stop a bad deal but not that we would allow a bad deal as long as the public had the opportunity to reject Brexit altogether.

“That implies that you are a Remain party. The Labour party is not a Remain party now. We have accepted the result of the referendum and we are trying to get a good deal.”

Mr Kyle said on Twitter: “Might be a good time for us all - including Barry Gardiner - to reflect on Labour’s official position on #KyleWilson as set out by our Shadow Cabinet spokesperson on Brexit Keir Starmer in the Commons recently.”

Meanwhile, Mr Watson tweeted: “I've had many calls about Barry Gardiner's interview on @BBCr4today, which I missed. Whipping arrangement have not yet been agreed. I support the Kyle/Wilson amendment."

PoliticsHome understands Mr Corbyn is set to see resignations from Labour frontbenchers in pro-Brexit seats if he whips his MPs to support the bid - tabled in the name of Dame Margaret Beckett - later today.

The Kyle/Wilson motion is one of 16 which could form part of a series of indicative votes MPs are taking part in on Wednesday seeking to end the current Brexit deadlock.

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