EXCL Jeremy Corbyn frontbench allies round on him over decision to back second referendum

Posted On: 
26th February 2019

Senior allies of Jeremy Corbyn have hit out at his decision to back a second EU referendum, PoliticsHome has learned.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will back another referendum to block Theresa May's Brexit deal.
Credit: 
PA Images

Leading frontbenchers made clear their opposition to the move at a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet on Tuesday morning.

Mr Corbyn told a meeting of Labour MPs and peers on Monday that the party would support another referendum as a way of blocking the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.

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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."

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry later confirmed that the option of staying in the EU would be on the ballot paper, and that Labour would campaign for it.

But at the Shadow Cabinet meeting, normally-loyal frontbenchers lined up to attack the plan.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon complained about the fact that the whole Shadow Cabinet had not been involved in the decision and added: "Why did we hear about it in the media?"

Labour chairman Ian Lavery, a long-standing opponent of a second referendum, said the new policy was "political suicide", while Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett also criticised the move.

Leave-backing Labour MPs have already demanded that Mr Corbyn give his troops a free vote on any second referendum amendment.

Meanwhile, Shadow Cabinet members also lined up to attack deputy leader Tom Watson for calling on Labour MPs to notify him if they make complaints anout anti-semitism or bullying by party members.

Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry were among those who criticised the move, saying he should not be setting up "a shadow complaints process".

In response, Mr Watson said he was trying to hold the party together following the resignations of nine Labour MPs in the past week.