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

Posted On: 
24th June 2019

Expect “white smoke” from Labour on a second referendum on Tuesday, John McDonnell has said, as the Shadow Cabinet meets to thrash out the party’s Brexit policy.

John McDonnell told an audience in the City to 'watch this space' on Labour supporting a second Brexit referendum

The Shadow Chancellor told an audience in the City to “watch this space” when it was suggested Jeremy Corbyn might finally be willing to back another vote on EU membership in all circumstances.

The Labour leader is in talks with trade union leaders on Monday ahead of the meeting of his senior team, and Mr McDonnell said he expected "a more definitive position will emerge” from the gathering.

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Speaking at an event host by UK Finance, Mr McDonnell repeated his view that it was now “right time to go back to the people" - and he confirmed that he would campaign for Remain in another referendum.

The Shadow Chancellor is among senior Labour figures pushing for Mr Corbyn to move the party’s official stance on from the one agreed to at last year’s annual conference, which is to first try and secure a general election or a satisfactory Brexit deal before a public vote.

But Mr Corbyn has so far resisted making Labour's position explicit, with a number of his MPs representing Leave-backing seats calling on him not to do so.

He is expected to make a public statement on Labour's Brexit policy later in the week, and Mr McDonnell said Tuesday’s meeting would be solely focused on Brexit.

He added: "Out of Shadow Cabinet tomorrow I’m hoping that a more definitive position will emerge."

The Shadow Chancellor was also asked about defence minister Tobias Ellwood’s claim that “a dozen or so” Tories could support a vote of no-confidence in their own Government in order to avoid a no deal Brexit.

He said Labour had not been in contact with any potential Conservative rebels, but added that his party’s “door is always open”.


The comments came as Mr McDonnell unveiled Labour's plans for a climate change-focused “green industrial revolution”.

The Opposition finance spokesperson pldged to spend an extra £250 billion from the sale of Government bonds over 10 years for a “National Transformation Fund”, creating “400,000 jobs, in every part of the country”.

Mr McDonnell also announced that he was launching an independent inquiry into the “shadow banking sector”, where investment funds use services outside normal banking regulations.

He said: “Millions of us have our pensions invested directly or indirectly in firms under little scrutiny, who may be putting money into the very companies that are causing the climate emergency.

“And putting at risk the retirements of millions. Pension funds are put at risk, whilst the planet is heating up.”

Adding: “So today I am launching an independent inquiry into the role and activities of shadow banking in our economy to examine what state intervention may be required to increase the transparency and accountability of this sector to ensure it plays its full role in addressing the climate change emergency that we face.”

UK Finance chief executive Stephen Jones said: “Describing what is needed as a ‘green industrial revolution’ is by no means an overstatement. Banking and financial services will not be found lacking.”