Labour MP tells Jeremy Corbyn: Backing referendum will stop you becoming Prime Minister

Posted On: 
25th February 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has been warned by a Labour MP that backing a second EU referendum will cost him the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann backs Brexit.

Brexit-backing backbencher John Mann said the decision to endorse a so-called "People's Vote" would infuriate Leave supporters in the Midlands and north of England.

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday evening, the Bassetlaw MP told Mr Corbyn: "This decision will stop you being Prime Minister."

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Mr Corbyn had earlier told the meeting that Labour would back a second EU referendum "to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country".

He said: "One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly-rejected deal. 

"That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country."

But splits emerged in Labour's position within an hour of it being announced, with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry appearing to be at odds with Mr Corbyn's office on what the policy entailed.

She told Channel Four News that if Labour's own Brexit plan was rejected by the Commons, the party would campaign for Remain if the alternative was Theresa May's deal.

However, a Labour source later insisted it would not be "reasonable" for a fresh referendum to be a straight choice between Mrs May's deal and staying in the EU.

Mr Corbyn was also warned that he would have a major revolt from Leave-backing Labour MPs if he tried to force them to back another referendum.

Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said she "remained to be convinced" by the move and predicted that up to 25 Labour MPs could vote against it.

But former Shadow Cabinet member Owen Smith, who was sacked for backing a second referendum, said: "I’m pleased now they recognise that the right thing to  do for the country and Labour’s voters is to allow the people to have a say."