Labour MPs have clashed over whether the party should back a second referendum, following Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to the Prime Minister, in which he outlined the Labour party’s conditions for its support for a Brexit deal. Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer yesterday said Corbyn’s letter “does not rule out the option of a second referendum… and Jeremy Corbyn is going to be writing to members to reassure them about that.” This comes as the Shadow Brexit minister, Matthew Pennycook, said Labour would have “no other credible options” but to support a public vote if May failed to accept Labour’s proposals. However, senior Labour sources yesterday said that the party would not necessarily support a second referendum if the Government did not accept its Brexit conditions.
Meanwhile, Labour MP Owen Smith, who backs a second referendum, yesterday said that he and “other people who hold [his] views will have to consider” quitting the party. He added, “I haven’t [yet] come to that decision,” but that “at the moment I may be asked by the Labour party to row in behind a policy decision that they know, and the government knows, is going to make the people I represent poorer, and I think more fundamentally, actually, is at odds with the internationalist, social democratic values that I believe in.”
Separately, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman yesterday said May will respond to Corbyn’s letter, but that she had not changed her position that the UK must not stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.
Elsewhere, European Council President Donald Tusk reportedly said yesterday that the plan suggested by Corbyn “might be a promising way out of the impasse.” In addition, the EU Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said, “A cross-party co-operation is the way forward and I think I can say that we welcome also the letter that Jeremy Corbyn has written today to Mrs May to offer such a cross-party exit.” He added, “It’s important now that this leads to a position in the UK that has the broadest possible majority, so that we can conclude these negotiations.”
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