John McDonnell has not ruled out the suggestion that the shadow chancellor could take a different side to Jeremy Corbyn during a People’s Vote campaign.
McDonnell has already declared in any People’s Vote he would campaign to Remain regardless of Labour’s official position on Brexit.
But the former Eurosceptic Labour leader has not declared a position – insisting the party is instead looking to negotiate a “credible” Brexit deal to offer against an option to Remain.
The shadow chancellor told Sky News: “Our policy is very clear, we will reject a no-deal Brexit, we will ensure that the people have another say on whatever deal is agreed.
“But alongside that say we will also ensure that basically people have a credible option of Brexit to look at, and Remain.
“This is about giving people a say again.”
McDonell said that it was still his view that the UK is better off remaining in the European Union, but the “people should decide”.
Presenter Adam Boulton said: “So it could be like under Harold Wilson in the 1970s, where we could potentially see a referendum with you and Jeremy Corbyn on different sides of the argument?”
However, the Labour frontbencher dodged the question, insisting “the Labour Party’s position in a referendum – whether we take a position distinctly or not – will be decided by our democratic processes through the party conference procedure.”
Pressed again whether there would be a free vote within the Labour cabinet, he said: “The way in which we go forward will be determined by party conference – which is in ten days time – and then as we develop the manifesto itself.”
Boulton asked a third time, whether there will be a free vote or collective cabinet responsibility, and suggested previously those decisions had been decided by Harold Wilson and David Cameron.
But McDonnell insisted: “We’re a much more democratic party than the Conservative Party and democracy within our party has moved on as well.”
He added: “There’s a whole range of options – and yes that is one of them – that will be considered. We have to make sure our members have a say in this as well, we are a party of nearly half-a-million members and we want to ensure our members have a say in this as well, that’s democracy, and that’s what we’re about.”