Brexit: Labour MPs accuse Corbyn of ‘standing in way’ of Final Say referendum on Theresa May’s deal

Labour divisions on Brexit have torn open after a group of MPs accused Jeremy Corbyn of killing off hope of securing a new referendum next week.

It included four Labour members who said Mr Corbyn’s refusal to back an amendment to give the British public a Final Say meant it had no chance of getting through the commons on Tuesday.

One of those making a press statement outside parliament said young Labour voters “cannot understand why Labour is standing in the way” of them having a new referendum.

The intervention indicates that a compromise proposal put forward by Mr Corbyn earlier this week, has failed to paper over cracks in his party about what should happen next.

At the same time a group of Labour MPs are threatening to defy any attempt to whip them in favour of a new referendum, with one frontbencher saying she is prepared to quit her role over the matter.

a man wearing a suit and tie: image

Luciana Berger said there is an “urgent need for leadership” on the Brexit debate following the record-breaking government’s defeat on its Brexit deal.© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited image

“Regrettably the Labour leadership won’t commit to an achievable policy and yet we know that the majority of Labour voters, supporters and members want a final say on any Brexit deal.

“Yet at a time when Labour should be championing a People’s Vote the leadership avoids answering that call.

a man wearing a suit and tie

“Because the Labour leadership and frontbench won’t back a People’s Vote, there will not be a vote on a cross-party people’s vote amendment next week – this is not good enough.”© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The MPs had hoped to join with Conservative backers of a new referendum to table an amendment in the commons next week directly calling for fresh vote, but admitted that it had little chance of passing with Mr Corbyn’s support, which is currently withheld.

Ms Berger went on: “There are millions of young people in our country that supported the Labour Party at the last general election. Over two million of them were under the age of 18 in 2016. They would today now have a vote.

“And so many of whom I speak too, cannot understand why Labour is standing in the way of the younger generation having a say on this.”

Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who is among those working with Labour MPs to secure a new vote, said: “With great regret we will not be laying that amendment [for a new referendum] because at this stage and until we have the leader of the opposition’s backing, it would not pass.”

The alternative motion proposed by Mr Corbyn would if passed only commit ministers to securing time for MPs to “consider and vote on options” including renegotiating the withdrawal agreement and also then “legislating to hold a public vote” on any deal that passes through the commons.

Polling indicates Labour voters in general and members are in favour of a new vote, but the leadership has had to walk a fine line with many constituencies in heartland areas having heavily backed Brexit.

A separate group of MPs strongly oppose a new referendum, including frontbencher Melanie Onn, who wrote to her constituents saying she would quit her role in Mr Corbyn’s top team if the leadership did back a new vote.

There are around a dozen amendments down to the government’s ‘plan B’ motion to be put to a vote on Tuesday, including those that will see MPs seek to extend Article 50 if Ms May’s deal fails to gain parliamentary backing and another which will allow MPs to bring forward legislation to be voted on, including potentially for a new referendum further down the line.


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