Labour to finalise its Brexit policy 'in a few weeks' amid Shadow Cabinet splits

Posted On: 
26th June 2019

Labour will finalise its policy on Brexit "in a few weeks", the party has confirmed.

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning for Remain in the 2016 referendum.
PA Images

The announcement came a day after deep splits in the Shadow Cabinet over Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to commit to backing Remain in a second referendum burst into the open.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell had said he expected "white smoke" - a reference to how the Vatican signals the election of a new Pope - following the weekly meeting of the leader's top team on Tuesday.

EXCL John McDonnell: Labour's Brexit position 'like slow-moving car crash'

Trade unions split over whether Labour should back Remain in second EU referendum

John McDonnell hints at second referendum 'white smoke' from Labour on Tuesday

But Mr Corbyn told them he needed more time to get trade union backing after Unite and the CWU told him they could not support a referendum and Remain policy.

That sparked an angry reaction from some of his senior colleagues, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying Labour's position on Brexit was "like a slow-moving car crash".

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said there was "a spectrum of views across the Labour party" on Brexit and that the Labour leader was trying to achieve a consensus.

"We're looking to get that common position that people can row behind in the next few weeks," he said.

The spokesman suggested that 25 July - when Parliament is due to rise for the summer recess - was the deadline the party was now working towards.

He added: "Right now Jeremy is trying to make sure there is wide consultation with the Labour movement and that includes the trade unions."

However, he dismissed suggestions that Mr Corbyn was being held back by those around him, including Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who oppose a second referendum.

The spokesman said: "Jeremy is quite capable of taking his own decisions and the idea that he's under the control of anyone else is laughable."