Corbyn to accept Labour members’ decision on second Brexit vote

Delegates at party conference on Tuesday are expected to support another referendum

Speaking on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says he would prefer a general election to a second Brexit referendum.

 

Britain’s Labour party moved closer to calling for a second referendum on Brexit on Sunday when Jeremy Corbyn said he would accept the decision his party conference makes this week.

Speaking at the start of the conference in Liverpool, where delegates will vote on a second referendum on Tuesday, the Labour leader said there would be a clear vote on the issue.

“Let’s see what comes out of conference. I’m bound by the democracy of our party,” he said.

A YouGov poll of Labour members published at the weekend found that 86 per cent wanted a referendum on the final Brexit deal, with only 8 per cent opposed to it. With strong support for a second vote among trade unionists and members of Momentum, the group established to support Mr Corbyn’s leadership, and among pro-European centrists, the Labour conference is expected to back it.

Asked for a response to the Labour leader’s comments, a Government spokesman said its practice was not to comment on internal British political affairs.

‘Significant’

Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers described the prospect of Labour supporting a second referendum as a “significant development in the Brexit process”. She said it represented a big shift from Mr Corbyn to concede as much, especially as he was “not a supporter of the EU”.

Sinn Féin’s Brexit spokesperson David Cullinane said his party’s priority was to ensure a backstop guaranteeing open borders in Ireland.

Mr Corbyn said on Sunday that it would be “very hard” to accept customs checks in the Irish Sea, stating that the solution was to secure a trade and a customs arrangement with the EU. He said Labour would vote down any Brexit deal Theresa May brings back from Brussels if it does not satisfy the party’s demand that it should have all the benefits of remaining in the single market and the customs union.

“We would vote it down if it didn’t meet out tests, in order to send the government – if it is still in office – straight back to the negotiating table,” he told the BBC.

Dismissed

The British prime minister will chair cabinet on Monday for the first time since last week’s Salzburg summit, when European Council president Donald Tusk and French president Emmanuel Macron dismissed the economic proposals in her Chequers plan as unacceptable.

Ms May is under pressure from Eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers to abandon Chequers and former cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis will on Monday endorse a proposal for a Canada-style free trade agreement. Brexit secretary Dominic Raab on Sunday insisted that the government would not change course but he called for more flexibility from EU negotiators.

“If we just get this sort of ‘computer says no’ response from the EU we are not going to make progress,” he said.