Jeremy Corbyn says Labour will back second Brexit referendum if members demand it
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to support holding another referendum on Brexit if Labour members vote for it at the party’s conference.
The Labour leader said he would prefer a general election to settle how the UK moves forward, but admitted he would "adhere to" the will of party members if they vote for a fresh Brexit poll.
The intervention comes after a survey of Labour members revealed a massive 86% are in favour of a fresh vote on the final deal between Britain and the EU – with just 8% against it.
The study, carried out for the People’s Vote campaign, also found that 90% would now vote to remain in the bloc.
The party leadership has until now distanced itself from calls for a so-called people’s vote, although senior figures have insisted that all options remain on the table.
Ahead of the four-day event in Liverpool, Mr Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror: “What comes out of conference I will adhere to. But I'm not calling for a second referendum.
“I hope we will agree that the best way of resolving this is a general election.
“But I was elected to empower the members of the party. So if conference makes a decision I will not walk away from it and I will act accordingly.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson also backed the move, telling The Observer: "Jeremy and I were elected in 2015 to give the Labour Party back to its members.
"So if the people's party decide they want the people to have a final say on the deal, we have to respect the view of our members and we will go out and argue for it."
The claims come just a day after John McDonnell warned that a second referendum on Brexit could give an "opportunity to Ukip or the far right".
The Shadow Chancellor told the Guardian: "I’m desperately trying to avoid any rise of xenophobia that happened last time around…I’m desperately trying to avoid giving any opportunity to Ukip or the far right.
"I think there’s the real risk of that.
"We’re not ruling out a people’s vote, but there’s a real risk, and I think people need to take that into account when we’re arguing for one."
The Conservatives meanwhile seized on Mr Corbyn's potential backing for a second referendum, accusing Labour of breaking a manifesto pledge to honour the 2016 vote.
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: "The last pretence that Labour ever respected the democratic decision of the British people is rapidly disappearing.
"If Labour back a second referendum they will have broken their manifesto pledge and betrayed millions of people who voted in good faith to leave the EU."