Fresh pressure heaped on Jeremy Corbyn as another major union demands second EU referendum pledge

Posted On: 
29th April 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has come under more pressure to back a second EU referendum after another trade union called on Labour to support it.

Manuel Cortes with Jeremy Corbyn outside Kings Cross station in London
PA Images

Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) said Labour needed to reflect the “overwhelming” position of its members in its manifesto for next month's European elections.

It comes after PoliticsHome revealed that that the heads of Unison, the GMB and Usdaw backed the move, ahead of a crunch meeting of the party's ruling national executive committee on Tuesday.

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Mr Cortes said: “Frankly it’s time for our party to act on the overwhelming wishes of its members and votes by pledging to support a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal.

"Our union has a clear policy of giving the British public the final say on any deal agreed by Parliament. We will be pushing hard for this to be included in Labour’s European manifesto."

Splits have emerged within Labour over a second referendum, with Jeremy Corbyn and his allies insisting it should only be held to prevent a "Tory Brexit" or the UK leaving without a deal.

But others, including deputy leader Tom Watson and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, believe any deal passed by Parliament should be put to the public.

In a further warning to the Labour leader, GMB general secretary Tim Roache told the Evening Standard: “It must be the public who have the final say on Brexit.

"A grubby political stitch-up to meet the needs of internal Tory party politics, rather than the best interests of our country, won’t put this question to bed for a minute, let alone a generation.”

And Unison boss Dave Prentis added: “The Prime Minister’s deal and a no-deal Brexit would be terrible for the UK, public services and working people.

“A package that protects peace in Northern Ireland, keeps the UK in a customs union with a close relationship to the single market, and protects future employment rights isn’t on the table.

“That’s why any final proposal must be put back to the country for voters to decide.”


Elsewhere, Jon Lansman, the head of pro-Corbyn group Momentum, insisted that Labour could “bridge the narrow gap” between opposing factions at tomorrow’s NEC meeting.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “Tomorrow’s Labour’s NEC must aim to unite the party membership and ensure we take both Brexit [and] Remain supporters with us to elect a Corbyn-led transformative Socialist government.”

“We are not far apart in what we need to say in the Euro manifesto. We need to bridge the narrow gap.”

It comes a day after he suggested the party should support another public vote, Tweeting: "At conf we agreed: 'If the Govt is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy & communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.' So surely we too can all agree to a confirmatory vote on any govt deal in our manifesto!"

Talks are ongoing between ministers and Labour in an attempt to agree a joint-Brexit deal that would win the backing of the Commons, however a breakthrough is not expected this week.