Shadow Cabinet splits burst into open as Rebecca Long-Bailey backs second EU referendum

Posted On: 
13th October 2019

Splits among senior members of the Shadow Cabinet have burst into the open after Rebecca Long-Bailey said she could back a second EU referendum taking place before the next general election.

Rebecca Long-Bailey said she has 'been on a journey' on a second referendum.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Shadow Brexit Secretary said she had "been on a journey" and said any deal agreed by Boris Johnson should be put to the people in a confirmatory ballot.

Her comments put her at odds with Jeremy Corbyn, who against insisted than an election must precede any fresh public vote on Brexit.

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Labour chairman Ian Lavery and shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett also gave their public backing to their leader shortly after Ms Long-Bailey made her comments on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

She said: "I've been on a journey, to be honest, in relation to a public vote or a referendum. At the start of this process I was completely against a public vote, I thought it would be very divisive. 

"However, after three years of drama and pantomime antics from the Tory government and the fact that we're facing a no-deal, I think the only option we've got now is to let the people decide and that's what our party's position is.

"I know that many colleagues are of a similar position to me, they've been on a journey, they weren't in favour of a referendum to start off with, but now we realise that it has to be put before the people, any final deal, and they have to make the final decision as to whether they're happy with that relevant deal or whether they want to remain in the European Union.

"Now that's the case if we're in a general election and Labour renegotiate a deal, and equally I think it should be the position if we're faced with a deal that's passed through the House of Commons by an unelected Tory Prime Minister that could potentially be damaging for our economy."

But appearing moments before on Sky News's Ridge on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn insisted an election should take place before any referendum.

"We have to get a deal that we can agree in if possible and the Labour position is that we would take this to a public vote under a Labour government," he said.

"We'll look at any deal that comes up before we trigger an election."

Backing the party leader on Twitter, Ian Lavery said: "Conference policy nothing more nothing less. Democracy in action!! Spot on ."

And Jon Trickett said: "It’s not surprising is it? This is our policy."

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has previously said an election should only happend after a second referendum, a stance now publicly backed by Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has also said he is open to the prospect of a referendum taking place before an election.