EXCL Unions urge Jeremy Corbyn to put referendum pledge in Labour manifesto

Posted On: 
28th April 2019

Leading unions want Jeremy Corbyn to put a pledge to back another EU referendum in Labour's forthcoming European election manifesto, PoliticsHome has learned.

Unison boss Dave Prentis and Jeremy Corbyn.
PA Images

The general secretaries of Unison, the GMB and Usdaw have thrown their weight behind the move as a crunch meeting of the party's ruling national executive committee looms.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer are pushing for a clear promise that any Brexit deal approved by the House of Commons should be put to the country in a so-called "confirmatory ballot".

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Reports on Sunday suggested that Unison boss Dave Prentis had give the Labour leader assurances that he would support his more equivocal stance that a second referendum should only be held to stop a "Tory Brexit" or the UK leaving without a deal.

But PoliticsHome understands that Mr Prentis has joined forces with GMB boss Tim Roache and Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis in backing Mr Watson and Sir Keir.

Labour's NEC will meet on Tuesday to finalise the party's position in what promises to be a defining moment.

At last year's Labour conference in Liverpool, party members unanimously agreed to oppose Theresa May's Brexit deal and, if forcing a general election proved impossible, all options including campaigning for another referendum should be on the table.

Mr Prentis took to Twitter to insist that the party must stick to that position.

Momentum boss Jon Lansman - a close ally of Mr Corbyn - also hinted that Labour should support another referendum.

Talks between the Government and Labour aimed at agreeing a joint-Brexit deal to put to the Commons will resume this week, but there is little hope of a breakthrough.

In a further challenge to Mr Corbyn, 22 Labour candidates in next month's European elections have backed another referendum, and pledged to vote Remain if it happens.

Twelve of the candidates are sitting Labour MEPs, and include Richard Corbett and Seb Dance, the leader and deputy leader of the party's group in the European Parliament.