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Tom Watson urges Jeremy Corbyn to ballot Labour membership on second Brexit referendum

Tom Watson urges Jeremy Corbyn to ballot Labour membership on second Brexit referendum
3 min read

Tom Watson has called for a party-wide ballot of Labour's members in a bid to thrash out a new Brexit policy in the wake of its drubbing at the European elections.

The deputy leader said he would back those pushing for "an all-member ballot to decide our party's Brexit policy" after running a poll which found 84% support for such a move.

The call came as Jeremy Corbyn appeared to move closer to throwing his weight behind another Brexit referendum in all circumstances.

Speaking ahead of a trip to Dublin on Thursday, he said he backs "a public vote on any deal agreed by parliament" if there is not a general election.

Labour splits on the issue exploded again on Wednesday when with party chairman Ian Lavery accused those pushing a fresh vote of "sneering" at Brexit supporters.

Mr Corbyn has said that Labour's stance on Brexit will be reconsidered at the party's annual conference in September.

But the online poll of 8,885 people organised by Mr Watson found just 3% support for waiting until then to agree a new policy.

Meanwhile just 13% backed a special conference of members - a plan previously floated by Mr Watson.

The Labour deputy leader said: "The results of my Brexit poll are clear.

"84% of Labour members and supporters who took the survey want an all-member ballot to decide our party's Brexit policy. As deputy leader I'll support them to make this happen."

Mr Corbyn will said: “Labour will work with anyone across party boundaries and do whatever is necessary to stop a disastrous no deal outcome, which would open the way for a frenzy of deregulation and a race to the bottom in jobs, rights and protections.

“But faced with the threat of no deal and a Prime Minister with no mandate, the only way out of the Brexit crisis ripping our country apart is now to go back to the people.

"Let the people decide the country’s future, either in a general election or through a public vote on any deal agreed by parliament.

He added: "For Labour any outcome has to work for our whole country, not just one side of this deliberately inflamed divide."


However, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey - a longstanding supporter of Mr Corbyn - urged Labour not to be "spooked" by its poor European election showing.

The party lost 10 MEPs and came third behind the avowedly pro-Remain Lib Democrats and the newly-formed Brexit Party, which topped the national poll.

The Unite general secretary told ITV's Peston: "This is a time to be calm. Yes, we need to reflect on where we are but all the Euro election results told us was that we have a divided nation.

"We knew that anyway. In many respects this is the second referendum that people have been looking for.”

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