Labour could shift position on Brexit referendum

Labour’s shadow cabinet could be set to shift its position on a further Brexit referendum after a meeting on Tuesday.

The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has faced calls to move policy in a more pro-EU direction.

On Monday, trade union leaders backed a referendum on any deal agreed by the Tory government or a no-deal exit from the EU.

They are now calling for Remain to be on the ballot and expect Labour to support that option.

If Labour wins power in a general election, they want a “confirmatory vote” on any new deal negotiated.

However, Labour’s stance in a referendum campaign in these circumstances would “depend on the deal negotiated”.

Mr Corbyn has previously said he would consult the unions before making any shift in Labour policy.

The shadow cabinet is due to meet at 10:00 BST.

Deputy leader Tom Watson and other leading figures have called for an unambiguously pro-Remain stance amid criticism that confusion over Labour’s message contributed to its poor performance in the recent European parliament elections.

But MPs from Leave areas of the UK have warned it could damage the party’s performance.

On Monday, Mr Watson welcomed the agreement by the bosses of Labour’s five-biggest affiliated unions as a “step in the right direction”, but said his party should not be supporting any form of Brexit.

In a document seen by the BBC, Unite, Unison, the GMB, CWU and Usdaw appear to have moved towards the position advocated by Mr Watson and others by saying that “Remain” should be an option on the ballot paper, and Labour should campaign for it.

In the event of a snap election and a Labour victory, they would expect the new government to negotiate a deal to leave the EU – a position favoured by the Unite union.

However the deal should be put to a confirmatory vote – a position favoured by Unison and the GMB – and in this scenario “Remain” should also be an option on the ballot paper.

Mr Corbyn has previously said he would be prepared to back a referendum on any Brexit deal put to Parliament.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.