The final paragraph of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter was intended to threaten a People’s Vote if she did not agree to his terms – but it was removed before sending.
According to ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston, the draft letter from the opposition leader to Theresa May was originally agreed between shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and the leader’s office.
In the draft text was a threat that if the prime minister did not agree to Corbyn’s terms on Brexit – including a customs union – his party would officially back a People’s Vote.
But in the text that was sent to Theresa May that threat had been removed.
Starmer, it is claimed, then called the leader’s office and was told they had forgotten to include it.
Peston blogs: ‘I am told Starmer is not the happiest member of the frontbench, to put it mildly – according to multiple sources.
‘He had agreed that the final part of Corbyn’s letter to May would say ‘if you do not accept this [Brexit offer] there will be a People’s Vote’.
‘A source tells me ‘LOTO [the leader of the opposition] agreed to this. But then Keir discovered after the letter had been sent and published that the People’s Vote para had gone’.
‘Starmer ‘called LOTO and was told ‘oh we must have forgotten that paragraph”.
‘Apparently Starmer’s reaction has not been one of unbridled joy.’
Peston comments that both supporters of Corbyn and a People’s Vote are equally unhappy – pointing out that his reluctance to support a second referendum goes against the democratic wishes of the party.
One source tells Peston the party aides are ‘seeing a Tory Brexit through so they can wash their hands of it’.
Labour’s Ben Bradshaw said: ‘If this is true, any attempt by the leadership, or figures in the leaders’ office, to subvert or renege on Labour’s unanimously agreed policy would provoke uproar among our members, voters and MPs.’
A Labour source insisted Starmer had ‘approved’ the final draft.