Labour chairman Ian Lavery blasts Shadow Cabinet colleagues for talking up 'confirmatory ballot' on Brexit

Posted On: 
19th May 2019

Labour chairman Ian Lavery has hit out at second referendum campaigners - including his own Shadow Cabinet colleagues - for using the term "confirmatory ballot".

Mr Lavery has been among Labour's sharpest critics of a second Brexit referendum.
Credit: 
PA

Mr Lavery said the phrase, which has been used by fellow Labour frontbenchers Tom Watson and Sir Keir Starmer in recent weeks, was an attempt to call a second vote on Brexit "something it isn't".

Sir Keir, among the leading advocates for a second referendum in Labour's top team, last week warned that it was "impossible" to see how any deal could pass the Commons without including a so-called "confirmatory vote".

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Tom Watson, the party's deputy leader, meanwhile said a Brexit deal "ought to be subject to the lock of a confirmatory vote" to get through Parliament.

The party's MPs were also whipped to back a Commons amendment from backbenchers Pete Kyle and Phil Wilson back in March which called for a "confirmation ballot" on any EU deal.

But Mr Lavery told the Financial Times he was "not sure" why the term was now being used by other senior Labour figures, and said the party leaders had never endorsed the use of the phrase "confirmatory ballot".

He meanwhile told The Independent: "I’m not sure where the term confirmatory ballot has come from.

“I’m not saying it is trying to hoodwink people, but it is trying to appease people, trying to flower it, trying to be something it isn’t. It’s a second referendum."

And he said: "We have never – at the NEC [National Executive Committee], the shadow cabinet – we have never ever discussed the term confirmatory ballot."

Mr Lavery - who earlier this year defied a three-line whip and voted against a second referendum - also warned that full Labour support for a fresh public vote would amount to an act of "self-harm".

But Mr Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove who co-authored March's amendment on a fresh public vote, hit back, telling the Independent: “It certainly isn’t a good look for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to suggest the public are too stupid to answer the question ‘is this deal good enough for you and your family?’.”

Mr Wilson meanwhile said: "It’s party policy that it should be called a confirmatory ballot."

And the Sedgefield MP added: "Whatever the deal, it will ask the people, three years after the referendum, whether they want to confirm that deal and go ahead with it."

Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday said it would be "reasonable to have a public vote" on any Labour-backed EU deal that gets through Parliament.