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Labour's Andy Burnham slams 'arrogant' second Brexit vote campaigners

Labour's Andy Burnham slams 'arrogant' second Brexit vote campaigners
3 min read

Andy Burnham has rubbished "arrogant" calls for a second Brexit referendum, amid reports of fresh pressure on Labour to back a new vote.

The Greater Manchester Mayor and former Labour leadership contender said campaigners should be focusing on a "practical, bridge-building" exit from the European Union instead of pushing for a referendum on whatever deal the UK ends up striking with the EU.

He told Politico: "My frustration with those leaping to a second referendum is it further inflames this idea of an arrogant political class, which isn't listening and isn't dealing with the issues that gave rise to the referendum in the first place.

"I've still been of the view that what we need is the most pragmatic, practical, bridge-building Brexit."

The intervention from the former Labour frontbencher came amid reports that the People's Vote campaign, which is calling for a second referendum, is targeting Labour members ahead of the party's annual conference next month in a bid to pressure the leadership into supporting a fresh vote.

The party has said it respects the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum, but a string of frontbenchers have pointedly refused to rule out backing another vote.

According to the BBC, Tom Baldwin, a former spokesperson for Ed Miliband who is now leading communications for the People's Vote campaign, has drawn up plans to prompt a shift in Labour's stance.

A YouGov/Sunday Mirror poll commissioned by People's Vote meanwhile found strong support for another referendum among Labour's target voters, with 59% of those who say they "might" or "would seriously consider" backing Jeremy Corbyn's party also supporting a vote on the final Brexit deal.

But Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner is among those strongly opposed to a second referendum, warning last week that a fresh vote could give "succour to the extreme right" and lead to "civil disobedience".


Elsewhere in his Politico interview, Mr Burnham - who campaigned against Brexit in 2016 - claimed ministers had failed to share their plans for a 'no deal' Brexit with local government, and said the lack of cooperation from showed the "pettiness of Westminster" politics.

He said: "I know they have done impact assessments on Greater Manchester and the north west.

"They know what no-deal or other options would do to us - and they won't share it with us.

"They are pushing us ever closer to this cliff edge, but they won't tell us what it means for us so we can begin to mitigate those issues.

"Because it's potentially embarrassing, politically awkward, I don't know. But that's not good enough. This is a reality we have to prepare for.

"And so it really brings home to you the dysfunctional nature of British politics. The pettiness of Westminster is holding the country to ransom."

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