Labour split erupts over Brexit as Keir Starmer suggests general election plan no longer 'credible'

Posted On: 
13th February 2019

Labour splits on Brexit have been laid bare once more after Sir Keir Starmer appeared to suggest that pushing for a general election was no longer a “credible option” for the party to pursue.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has been corrected by the Labour leadership
Credit: 
PA Images

The Shadow Brexit Secretary said the party was now only pursuing two alternatives - a compromise deal based on proposals contained in a letter from Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa May last week, or a second referendum.

But he was slapped down by Jeremy Corbyn's office, which insisted pressing for an early election remained the party's "preferred option".

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Under the policy agreed at Labour's conference, the party vowed to push for an election in the first instance, before pursuing other options, including a "public vote".

But on Radio Four's Today programme, Sir Keir said: "We said in September that if there wasn’t a general election then the option of a public vote had to be on the table.

"I have said in the last few weeks that in reality for the Labour party the only credible options now left are a close economic relationship - that’s the sort of relationship we spelt out in the letter to the Prime Minister last week - or a public vote."

When asked about the remarks, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "The options are a general election, which remains our preferred option, some form of agreement along the lines Jeremy laid out in his letter to Theresa May, and failing that a public vote remains an option on the table.

“Keir agrees that a general election as laid out in our conference policy is our preferred option.”

Mr Corbyn wrote to Mrs May earlier this week to say Labour could back her on Brexit if she commits to a permanent customs union with the EU, among other demands.

Reports emerged on Monday that Sir Keir had fought for a line in the letter about backing a second EU referendum - but that his calls were ignored by the leader’s office.

Sir Keir refused to be drawn on the reports this morning. He told the Today programme: “I’m not going into the ins and outs of the drafting of the letter.”