EXCL Jeremy Corbyn may not back bid for second EU referendum until after Brexit deal agreed

Posted On: 
15th March 2019

Jeremy Corbyn could wait until after MPs agree a Brexit deal before he launches a bid to secure a second EU referendum, PoliticsHome understands.

Jeremy Corbyn has failed to give fully-throated support for a second EU referendum
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour party is mulling whether to table a People's Vote amendment to the legislation needed to deliver Brexit once a deal between the UK and Brussels is done and dusted.

A source said it would be “difficult to put a proposition to the public before that proposition is agreed” - but such a delay is likely to anger supporters of the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ campaign.

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EXPLAINED: What is the deal with Labour's shift on a second Brexit vote?

Labour has edged towards backing a second referendum on Brexit after it failed to secure a general election - in line with its official policy agreed at party conference last year.

It has tasked backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson to prepare an amendment demanding any Brexit deal agreed by MPs is put to the public in a referendum.

The Hove and Sedgefield MPs are still expecting to table their amendment before the next so-called meaningful vote on the Brexit deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels.

But a Labour source said it would make more sense to push the Commons into backing a referendum once MPs had settled on the withdrawal plan.

“It would be difficult to win support for putting a proposition to the public before that proposition is agreed,” they said.

“It could have the added benefit of being a bid to unite the country - giving it something to coalesce around once the debate on the deal is finished - rather than dividing it further.”

They added: “If the Government passes its deal then it is reasonable to bring it back to the people to make sure they are happy with what is on offer.”

Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna said: "We cannot give the Labour Party's eurosceptic leadership a veto on putting the principle of a People's Vote to the House of Commons because they are running down the clock, just like Theresa May, and will only come out for it when it's too late.

"Under the spirit of the Labour party conference motion on Brexit, they should have been backing a People's Vote weeks ago and yet Jeremy Corbyn continues to betray his members and supporters on this issue which is why many are leaving the party."

'CATEGORICALLY NOT TRUE'

But Mr Kyle insisted claims that Labour would wait until after a Brexit deal is agreed before backing a fresh referendum were “categorically not true”.

“Labour will either table an amendment on a confirmatory vote or support Phil and mine, which will go down on, or before, the next meaningful vote,” he said.

“Phil and I will be tabling soon and Labour will be supporting and I have been given nothing to make me believe otherwise.”

The Prime Minister is set to bring her Brexit deal back to the Commons next week for a third attempt at winning the backing of MPs.

It suffered a crushing defeat for the second time on Tuesday by 391 votes to 242. 

If MPs reject the deal again, Mrs May will ask Brussels for a long delay to the 29 March Brexit date, but if they back it the UK will request a short delay of a few months to get the required legislation through.