EXCL Labour policy official criticised after hitting out at campaign for second EU referendum

Posted On: 
3rd January 2019

A top Labour policy official has been criticised after he launched an outspoken attack on the campaign for a second EU referendum.

People's Vote campaigners march in London last year.
PA Images

Sean Duffy, who works as a senior researcher for Scottish Labour's Brexit spokesman, Neil Findlay, said calls for a so-called 'People's Vote' were "an astroturf campaign designed to split Labour and nothing else".

His comment, which he made in a now-deleted tweet this morning, appears to fly in the face of Labour's official Brexit policy, which is to leave the option of another referendum on the table if the party fails to force a general election.

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A poll earlier this week also revealed that nearly three-quarters of Labour members support a second referendum.

Mr Duffy, who is also a member of the UK Labour party's national policy forum, has insisted that he was tweeting in a "personal capacity".

But Labour MP Ian Murray, who supports a second EU referendum, said: "It’s extraordinary that a day after support for a People’s Vote topped 75% of Labour members and supporters that a senior advisor to the Scottish Labour party’s Brexit spokesperson and members' representative on the ruling policy making body of the party would make such remarks.

"He doesn’t even abide by party policy made by Labour members at party conference. It has to be said time and time again that there is no ‘jobs first’ Brexit, no Brexit that makes the country better off and no renegotiated Brexit that doesn’t make the communities we seek to represent poorer.

"These remarks add to a long list of ‘Labour’ people who fail to acknowledge that a people’s vote is about letting the public back in to a process where Parliament has failed. He can manufacture some kind of conspiracy whilst the rest of us try to stop the damage to our country’s economy.

"The only people that want the Labour party to split is the hard left. The rest of us want a broad church Labour government that most of us have been working for our entire political lives."

The latest Labour Brexit controversy comes after Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said Theresa May should go back to Brussels to renegotiate her deal if it is defeated in the Commons in a fortnight.

On whether Labour would support another referendum, the party leader said: "The issue of another referendum was, of course, one of the options, but that was very much after the votes have taken place in Parliament.

"We haven't yet had a vote and I think the Government really should be ashamed of itself. This vote has been delayed and delayed and delayed. It's finally going to take place the second week of January. That is not acceptable, this vote should have taken place more than a month ago.

"This government is just trying to run down the clock and create a sense of fear between either no deal or May's deal. Well, both of those options are completely unacceptable."