EXCL Jeremy Corbyn faces fresh frontbench resignations if he backs Commons bid for second Brexit referendum

Posted On: 
19th March 2019

Jeremy Corbyn will face fresh resignations from his top team if he orders MPs to support a second referendum on Brexit, PoliticsHome understands.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he is likely to whip in support of the amendment
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Up to five shadow ministers who represent pro-Brexit seats are prepared to forefeit their jobs if the Labour leader tells his team to back a so-called People’s Vote amendment to Theresa May’s deal.

One Labour MP said: “It has reached the point where enough is enough.”

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Labour backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson are preparing to lay an amendment next week that seeking a fresh public vote in which the choice would be between a Brexit deal and staying in the EU.

Mr Corbyn himself has said he is likely to throw his weight behind the bid, while Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has argued “we must support the lock of a public vote”.

Last week five rebels who serve in pro-Leave seats quit their frontbench posts to vote against a separate bid for a second EU referendum, after Mr Corbyn ordered them to abstain.

PoliticsHome has been told the party leader could face a similar exodus of shadow ministers if he whips MPs to support the Kyle-Wilson amendment.

One MP told said: “I campaigned in the general election for a softer Brexit and I reassured voters we would honour the referendum.

“I would be going back on my word if I voted for this amendment - there would be a sense of betrayal.”

They added: “It has got to that point where enough is enough.”

Another MP said they would challenge Mr Corbyn to sack them.

"I’ve said all along that a second referendum isn’t the way to go as my constituents expect us to deliver Brexit," they said. "But I love my frontbench position and will have to be pushed out of it - I won’t be jumping."

'NOT A HILL I WOULD DIE ON'

Some Labour frontbenchers in pro-Brexit seats are willing to vote for the amendment safe in the knowledge that it will not pass the Commons.

One said: “I am against a second referendum - I just want to see a deal. But would it be a hill I would die on? I doubt it.”

Last week Ruth Smeeth, Justin Madders, Yvonne Fovargue, Stephanie Peacock and Emma Lewell-Buck quit their frontbench roles to vote against a second referendum amendment laid by Dr Sarah Wollaston.

Only 85 MPs backed the bid, which was rejected by the Labour frontbench and the People’s Vote campaign as being badly timed.

Mrs May is expected to bring her deal back to the Commons next week, at which point Mr Kyle and Mr Wilson will table their amendment.

However the timing of the next vote on the deal has been thrown up in the air, after Commons Speaker John Bercow blocked the PM from making MPs vote on the same motion a second time.

A Labour spokesperson failed to comment by the time of publication.