Labour MPs in pro-Brexit seats attack bid to select all pro-EU MEP candidates
Labour MPs in pro-Brexit seats have hit back at claims of a plot to stop anti-EU candidates from standing in the upcoming European Parliament elections.
John Mann issued a direct attack on Richard Corbett, the leader of the Labour group in the European Parliament, while Gareth Snell said it would be a “strategic error” to offer up only pro-Remain candidates.
It comes after the Daily Mail reported an apparent plot to stop pro-Leave candidates being selected by the party for the election on 23 May.
Britain was forced to trigger the legal process for taking part in the vote after MPs refused to agree a Brexit deal, but the country could still pull out before polling day if the Commons backs an EU withdrawal plan.
According to the Mail, the 20 Labour MEPs have urged Jeremy Corbyn to ensure all candidates promise to back calls for a second EU referendum.
It comes after Mr Corbett warned that Labour stood to lose millions of votes unless it commits to a fresh Brexit vote in its EU Parliament election manifesto.
But Bassetlaw MP Mr Mann fumed on Twitter: “So Richard Corbett, member of Labour’s national executive wants to purge anybody who supports Brexit.
“That’s a majority of Labour voters who voted for him in Yorkshire. The zealots can’t help themselves, can they?”
Stoke MP Mr Snell told PoliticsHome: “Labour will need to win votes from all over the country in every region to ensure as large a Labour delegation to the EU Parliament as possible.
“If voters in England outside London and the big metropolitan cities are presented with a list of people whose sole purpose would appear to be to frustrate the process of leaving the EU, then that’s a strategic error.”
PARTY POLICY FOR A BREXIT VOTE
Mr Corbett told PoliticsHome: "I'm sure Labour MEPs will welcome all new Labour candidates who will, no doubt, support party policy, including the support for a confirmatory public vote."
A source told the Mail: “Our MEPs are all pro-Brussels and do not want to fight alongside anti-Brussels Labour candidates because they say it will show the leadership is facing both ways.
“It will make writing the manifesto impossible.”
It is understood that Labour MEPs are pushing for a second referendum pledge to be included in the Labour manifesto. The manifesto will be decided by the ruling Labour executive.
Mr Corbyn has insisted a second referendum must remain an option to break the Brexit deadock at Westminster, but has failed to fully sign up to supporting one.
Mr Corbett told the Observer on Sunday: “If Labour does not reconfirm its support for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal in its manifesto it will haemorrhage votes. If we offer a confirmatory ballot we could do very well.”
Some 73 MEPs will be elected at the European Parliament elections, assuming they go ahead, with the smaller pro- and anti-Brexit parties expected to pick up votes.