Labour MPs urge Jeremy Corbyn to back second Brexit referendum if election bid fails tonight

Posted On: 
16th January 2019

Jeremy Corbyn is under intense pressure from Labour MPs to back a second referendum on Brexit if Theresa May wins a vote of confidence in her Government tonight.

Jeremy Corbyn is caught between his party membership - which overwhelmingly supports a second referendum - and many Labour voters in pro-Leave heartlands.
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Pro-EU campaigners on the red benches are desperate for the party leader to throw his weight behind a fresh vote and are dangling the threat of a major split otherwise.

After intense factional wrangling at its conference last year, Labour agreed that it could support a public vote on the final Brexit deal if fails to secure a general election.

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Mr Corbyn tabled a no-confidence motion in the Government last night - the first step to triggering an election - after it faced a historic defeat on the Brexit deal the Prime Minister clinched with Brussels.

But Mrs May is set to win the vote after hardline pro-Brexit Tories and the DUP - which props up her minority government - vowed to support her.

Labour MP David Lammy urged the party to end the “pussyfooting” and back another referendum - after senior party sources suggested multiple confidence motions in the Government could be tabled.

“If we cannot secure a general election, Labour should honour the next stage of our conference policy and start actively campaigning - with people of all parties and of none - to give the public the final say,” he told the Times.

Chris Leslie, a fellow Labour supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, added: “To not do that would feel a bit like Nick Clegg promising to not raise tuition fees and then tripling them.

“This feels like a promise that the Labour party made back in September.”

'MOMENT OF UNITY'

Mr Corbyn is caught between the Labour membership - which overwhelmingly supports a second referendum - and many of its voters in pro-Leave heartlands.

According to the Mirror, more Labour MPs are expected to come out and back the drive for a second vote in an announcement at 10 o’clock this morning - piling further pressure on the Labour leader.

Reports suggest the new names could bring the total number of Labour MPs urging the leadership to change tack to 100.

Michael Chessum, a Labour grassroots campaigner from pro-EU pressure group Another Europe Is Possible, predicted “a great moment of unity for the next 24 hours”.

He told the Guardian that Mr Corbyn should move “sooner rather than later to a people’s vote” - and warned of deep splits between the leadership and the membership otherwise.