Backing Brexit will cost Labour more votes than Iraq war, leaked poll warns
Backing Brexit would be more damaging to Labour's electoral fortunes than the Iraq war, a stark poll handed to Jeremy Corbyn's top team has warned.
It warns Labour that backing Brexit will cost the party 45 seats at a snap election, compared with 11 for opposing Britain's departure.
"There can be no disguising the sense of disappointment and disillusionment with Labour if it fails to oppose Brexit and there is every indication that it will be far more damaging to the party’s electoral fortunes than the Iraq war," it says.
“Labour would especially lose the support of people below the age of 35, which could make this issue comparable to the impact the tuition fees and involvement in the coalition had on Lib Dem support.”
The party would also risk losing five of its seven MPs in Remain-supporting Scotland if it supports Brexit, the study says.
Amid calls for Mr Corbyn to back a second referendum, the poll claims that three-quarters of Labour voters would vote to 'Remain' if one were called.
It also suggests any new centrist party vowing to oppose Brexit could hoover up Labour voters, with 17% of Jeremy Corbyn's 2017 supporters saying they would be "very likely" to back a new party that came out against Britain's EU exit.
"Even if we accept that most Labour voters would not desert the party for a new centrist party, anger at Brexit means that some will," the report says.
The findings came as Mr Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister setting out the terms under which Labour could back her Brexit agreement.
But, according to the study, four-fifths of Labour's supporters believe Mrs May's deal will hurt the British economy.
Meanwhile 91.4% do not trust her to deliver a Brexit that will be good for people like them.
The report warns: "If there is an election in 2019, Labour will get a lower share of the vote in every seat in the country if it has a pro-Brexit policy than if it has an anti-Brexit position.”
The new poll was quickly seized on by anti-Brexit campaigners, who urged Labour to swing behind a second referendum.
Richard Brooks of young people's group For Our Future's Sake said: "The Liberal Democrats went onto to campuses and promised young people to not increase tuition fees. When they trebled them, only months later, young people and students mobilised - and in 2015 the Liberal Democrats were all but wiped out.
"The Labour Party now has the same existential threat before it. Does it enable a Tory Brexit, which will disproportionately harm young and working class people, or does Labour follow the wishes of hundreds of thousands of members like me, and support a People's Vote."