Howlin calls for second British referendum at UK Labour conference

Labour Party leader points to how little attention British voters paid to the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin: “The British people cannot yet understand the consequences of what they have done.” Photograph: Dave Meehan

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin: “The British people cannot yet understand the consequences of what they have done.” Photograph: Dave Meehan

 
Britain should hold a second referendum on its membership of the European Union once negotiations on exiting the union have concluded, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said.

Speaking at the UK Labour Party’s annual conference in Liverpool, Mr Howlin said the outcome of the Brexit referendum amounted to a “unilateral decision of isolationism”.

He said many British people were unaware of the hurt the decision to leave the EU had caused in Ireland, particularly how little attention was paid to the effect on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.

The decision to leave the EU will cause some tension with Ireland at a time when relations have never been better, he added.

“The British people cannot yet understand the consequences of what they have done,” Mr Howlin said. “It is already clear that the British Government does not. That will emerge over time, and at the end of seemingly endless negotiations.

“When it does become clear, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that the British people be asked to confirm their decision. That based on that agreement, the people should once more have their say, in a further referendum.”

A second referendum campaign, he said, would not see the level of distortion that he said characterised the first.