Keir Starmer defies Jeremy Corbyn to say Labour could back second EU referendum
Keir Starmer has said Labour could still back another EU referendum - just two days after a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn appeared to rule it out.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary said the party was "not ruling out" a vote on the final deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels.
His remarks, in a speech to Labour Business, put him at odds with Mr Corbyn's office.
Speaking on Wednesday, a spokeman for the Labour leader 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."
But Sir Keir said: "We’re not calling for it. We respect the result of the first referendum. But we’re not ruling out a second referendum."
On Tuesday, the Unite union announced that it was "open to the possibility of a popular vote being held on any deal, depending on political circumstances".
Sir Keir's comments were leapt on by pro-EU campaigners, who are calling for another referendum.
A spokesperson for the People's Vote campaign said: "Travel inside the Labour party on this issue is in only one direction. This week Unite, Labour's biggest affiliate made it clear that a people's vote on the final Brexit deal was a real option for Labour and now the Shadow Cabinet member with policy responsibility for this area appears to be confirming that view. Brexit is a big deal, but it's not a done deal."
Eloise Todd, chief executive for Best for Britain said: "We welcome Keir Starmer's comments about keeping the door open to a vote on the final deal.
"A people's vote makes perfect sense in a period when the government is at war with itself, businesses are leaving the country and any deal is likely to be markedly worse than the bespoke one we're currently sitting on."