Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner warns second Brexit referendum would ‘undermine democracy’

Posted On: 
14th December 2018

A second Brexit referendum could undermine "democracy in itself", Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has said, despite Labour refusing to rule one out.

The Shadow Education Secretary is a key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Credit: 
PA

The party's official position is to first try and oust Theresa May at a general election if MPs vote down her Brexit deal, but to keep the option of another referendum "on the table" if that is unsuccessful.

But Ms Rayner last night warned: "Saying that we'll just have a second referendum and everything will be fine, I think, is a very serious position and it undermines democracy in itself."

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She told the BBC's Question Time: "People made the decision and you can't keep going back saying: Would you like to answer it a different way?"

Campaigners for a second vote want Labour to table a motion of no confidence in the Government and then switch to a fight for a second referendum.

A cross-party group this week lined up to urge Jeremy Corbyn to get behind their plan.

But senior figures in the party are split over whether to throw their weight behind demands for a so-called 'People's Vote'.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer went off-script at the party's annual conference earlier this year, saying that Labour was not ruling out a push for Remain "as an option" on a second referendum ballot paper.

But Len McCluskey, general secretary of the powerful Unite trade union, was reported to have told Labour MPs a second vote would be seen as a "betrayal" of those who voted to Leave in 2016.

That prompted pushback from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who said: "I think if we get to a situation where we’d tried everything… we need a general election. Because we can then change the team that will then do the negotiations.

"If we can’t do that, well, I think people will recognise we have no other option but to consider another public vote and people will respect us for doing our best to implement the spirit of the referendum."

Former Labour leader Tony Blair will today claim another referendum is a "near probability" and urge EU leaders to start preparing for one.