Labour frontbencher urges Jeremy Corbyn to 'show leadership' and back a second Brexit referendum

Posted On: 
18th January 2019

A Labour frontbencher has heaped fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn by urging him to become a "leading voice" in the campaign for a second Brexit referendum.

The Labour leader is facing pressure from some of his own MPs to back a second Brexit referendum.

Shadow Sports Minister Rosena Allin-Khan broke ranks to call on the Labour leader to "show leadership", amid reluctance from some senior party figures to throw their weight behind a new public vote.

Labour's official policy is to first try to unseat Theresa May in a general election, but it has said that "all options" remain "on the table, including campaigning for a public vote" if such a bid fails.

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Ms Allin-Khan told the Evening Standard: "Millions of voters have been left feeling politically abandoned because of Brexit.

"Labour members and supporters are looking for Labour to show leadership. Jeremy Corbyn can become the leading voice in the campaign for a public vote, really shaping what the referendum would look like."

The MP, who represents the heavily pro-Remain seat of Tooting in London, warned that Labour risked being "out of tune" with younger voters if it did not back the push for a second vote.

"We are a party that  galvanised the vote of young people across the country at the last election," she said.

"These young people want us to boldly stand up and speak out for them."

Labour's splits over a second referendum burst into the open this week as Mr Corbyn launched a bid to remove the Prime Minister in a vote of no-confidence.

Ahead of the unsuccessful push, scores of MPs signed an open letter urging Mr Corbyn to immediately switch to campaigning for a referendum if the move failed.

They said: "We must try and remove this Government from office as soon as possible.

"But the removal of the Government and pushing for a General Election may prove impossible, so we must join trade unions, our members and a majority of our constituents by then unequivocally backing the only logical option to help our country move forward: putting the decision back to the people for a final say, in a public vote, with the option to stay and keep the deal that we have."

However, some members of Mr Corbyn’s top team remain deeply sceptical of the campaign for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’, fearing that it risks alienating swathes of Brexit-backing voters in Labour’s heartlands.

The Guardian on Friday reported that the leader could face a wave of resignations if Labour ends up supporting a second referendum.

One shadow minister said: "I would feel deeply uncomfortable about going into a people’s vote at this stage. Given all the commitments that we made in the general election, we have to carry them out.

They said: “This concept of blocking Brexit is wrong and would break a link with millions of our traditional voters who expect us to keep our word."

The Labour Party has been approached for comment on Ms Allin-Khan’s intervention.