Gordon Brown: Jeremy Corbyn must back Labour conference vote on second Brexit referendum

Posted On: 
12th November 2018

Gordon Brown has swiped back at Jeremy Corbyn over his claim that Brexit cannot be stopped and said the Labour leader must follow party members’ wishes.

Gordon Brown makes a speech on Brexit at the Institute for Government in London
Credit: 
PA Images

Mr Corbyn told German magazine Der Spiegel on Friday it was too late to halt the UK leaving the EU because Article 50 has already been triggered.

"We can't stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave,” he said.

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But the comments came after Labour members voted overwhelmingly at this year's party conference for a motion which kept the option of a second referendum on the final deal to be kept on the table.

The admission prompted a fresh split in the Labour ranks, with Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer declaring on Sky News this morning after being asked about the leader’s comments: “Well, Brexit can be stopped”.

He added that seeking a general election and should that fail, to campaign for a so-called people's vote was the party's "clear position". 

"Jeremy signed up for that, and I’m signed up to that, and that is the position that was passed at Labour party conference," he added.

Mr Brown today weighed in, saying that when he was was prime minister, Mr Corbyn would be “the first” to tell him to listen to members’ demands.

“Jeremy used to remind me when I was in government that we are bound by conference motions and he always says he is bound by them, so look at the conference motion that I think Keir Starmer was reading out on the radio this morning,” he told an Institute for Government event.

The former Labour leader predicted that the public would demand a second vote as he called for a new Royal Commission to be set up that would include “views and opinions in all regions and nations and in all sectors and involving all stakeholders in industry” on how to move forward.

”I believe a referendum will happen as people come to the conclusion that since 2016 the situation has changed and at some point they will want to have the final say,” he said.

“But we have to deal with the very real concerns raised in the referendum and since by the British people and not yet answered."

The Labour heavyweight added: "We cannot reunite a divided country without talking to the country,  getting outside the Westminster bubble, entering a dialogue with the regions and nations and engaging the people in an open, outward looking conversation about our future in a more systematic and constructive way than is happening right now."

He said that the current impasse in talks and on resolving crucial issues such as Britain’s future relationship with Europe in areas such as the single market and customs union could leave the country more divided than on the miners’ strike, poll tax and Iraq War.