EXCL Labour Brexit splits burst into open as shadow minister backs fresh referendum

Posted On: 
14th May 2018

A Labour shadow minister has publicly backed a referendum on the final Brexit deal - in direct defiance of Jeremy Corbyn's position.

Labour MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston Preet Gill is a shadow international development minister

In a conversation with a student activist on Twitter, Shadow International Development Minister Preet Gill said she agreed that “a people’s vote on the deal is an absolute must".

The Birmingham Edgbaston MP hurriedly deleted the tweet within minutes of PoliticsHome revealing her comments, but a copy remains.

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Her surprise remarks put her at odds with Labour's official policy, which is not to support a fresh vote.

Ms Gill is the latest Labour frontbencher to break ranks on the issue since Owen Smith was dramatically fired from his job of Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary in March over his support for a second vote.

Writing in The Guardian, Mr Smith said Labour must offer another vote to “properly serve our democracy”.

He was subsequently sacked from the party's frontbench by Mr Corbyn and replaced by veteran MP Tony Lloyd.

Shadow health minister Lord Hunt also defied his party over the issue last month, backing an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would give voters the chance to either rubber stamp the final Brexit deal or reverse the UK’s exit from the EU.

He was hauled in front of the Shadow Chief Whip in the House of Lords, and Labour Lords leader Baroness Smith, for a dressing down, but retained his position in Mr Corbyn’s shadow team.

A source in the People's Vote campaign, which is pushing for a second vote, welcomed Ms Gill's backing for a fresh referendum.

They told PoliticsHome: "Last week a poll showed 69% of Labour voters backed a People’s vote on the final Brexit deal and it’s great to see frontbench MPs responding positively to that demand."

Ms Gill later tweeted in an attempt to explain her earlier remarks.