Labour: Second referendum will not be in manifesto

PUBLISHED: 14:41 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:33 20 April 2017

Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out backing a second referendum on the final Brexit deal after suggestions Labour could include the policy in their general election manifesto.

A spokesman for the Labour leader said: “A second referendum is not our policy and it won’t be in our manifesto.”

It comes after shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government should “put the deal to Parliament and possibly to the country overall” and Corbyn dodged a question on the issue in his first keynote speech of the campaign.

Labour was reportedly considering calling for a second referendum to win over Remain voters who may be tempted to switch to the Liberal Democrats, who have promised a national poll on the final UK-EU deal.

And following his first major election speech Corbyn was asked whether he was considering or would rule out a second referendum on any agreement reached after withdrawal negotiations with the EU.

But he appeared to dodge the question, replying: “The European Union negotiations are going on and we set out our (red) lines on the negotiation.

“Primarily, it’s about getting and retaining tariff-free access to the European market.

“We haven’t threatened to turn Britain into an offshore tax haven on the shores of Europe, undermining the European economy.”

Instead, Labour wants a “good process by which we continue to trade with Europe”.

He added: “Walking away and trading under World Trade Organisation conditions will mean the manufacturing industry in this country would be severely damaged.”

After the speech, a spokeswoman for the leader said Labour’s position, backing a “meaningful vote” in Parliament, had not changed but did not explicitly rule out a second referendum. After news sites - including this one – began reporting that Corbyn would not rule out a second vote the Labour leader was forced in to an embarrassing clarification.

The confusion will spoil what had been a successful day for Corbyn with a widely reported and well received speech.

Corbyn has also been attacked over reports his son Seb is bidding to stand in the safe Labour seat of Liverpool Walton. The Labour leader has in the past spoken out about the need to draw MPs from a broad range of backgrounds.

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