WATCH Labour frontbench split as Barry Gardiner trashes second Brexit vote calls
Labour frontbencher Barry Gardiner has rubbished calls for a second vote on Brexit - just hours after his colleague Sir Keir Starmer said the party was open to the idea.
The Shadow International Trade Secretary suggested voters would see a second-chance referendum on Brexit as patronising, and warned that backing another vote could cripple the party's electoral chances.
"I don’t believe on a point of principle that we should undermine that democratic accountability," he told the BBC's Sunday Politics.
"I think if we do, politics and politicians in this country will bear an enormous price. We will have turned round, patted people on the head and said 'there there, you got it wrong but don’t worry we’ll fix it'."
He added: "We have business that has been calling out for two years for clarity for certainty… if we then say we are going to take the decision all over again that is thrown into the future."
His firm stance against a so-called 'People's Vote' on Brexit came just hours after his colleague Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted to leave a new referendum "on the table" if MPs end up voting against Theresa May's final Brexit deal.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "The position of the Labour Party has been that we're not calling for a second referendum, we've focused very much on the vote in Parliament...
"But what we've also said is this - that should the Article 50 deal that the Prime Minister brings back be voted down or worse, there's no deal, then that's a very serious situation.
"And we're going to have to confront it when we get there and that Parliament must decide what happens next.
"And in those circumstances it seems to me the sensible thing is to keep all of our options on the table."
But Sir Keir appeared to cut a lonely figure on the Labour frontbenches on Sunday, as a minister in his own team also scotched suggestions the party could back a fresh poll.
Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman told the BBC's Pienaar's Politics show that the 2016 vote had been "so hate-filled and divisive that I'm not enthusiastic at all about repeating that experience".
The party's stance on a second referendum has been thrust back into the spotlight in recent weeks as the Unite union - Labour's biggest donor - said it was leaving the door open to a new vote.
But a spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn moved to shut down talk of a fresh poll, saying Labour had "supported there being a referendum and that referendum produced a result".
He said: "We’ve said that it’s not our policy to call for another referendum, that we respect and recognise the 2016 referendum result and we believe that any deal should be subject to a meaningful vote in Parliament. It should be dealt with in Parliament."
Tory chair Brandon Lewis chimed in: “This weekend the Government agreed a position to negotiate a good deal with the EU.
“And what do we get from Labour? They’ve confirmed they’re leaving the door open to re-running the referendum.
“We’re moving forward, and they want to turn the clock back two years.”