Union boss Len McCluskey has been criticised for claiming that a second referendum ‘threatens the entire democratic fabric of our nation’.
McCluskey, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, was appearing on ITV’s Peston programme to talk about Brexit and was asked for his view on a People’s Vote.
He claimed that another public vote with Remain as an option was not ‘the best option for our nation’ – despite backing the UK remaining in the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign.
‘My view is having had a 2016 referendum where the people have voted to come out of the European Union, to try and deflect away from that threatens the whole democratic fabric on which we operate.
‘My union’s position is fairly clear. We have a union policy that first of all recognises and respects the 2016 referendum.
‘We in Unite put more money and resources in campaigning for a Remain vote, but we lost and you have to accept the democratic decision of a referendum.’
The leader of Britain’s largest trade union is instead calling for a general election – reflecting Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Brexit.
A poll of Unite members in September 2018 found that 59% backed a People’s Vote compared to just 33% who did not.
Journalist Carole Cadwalladr responded to the video by saying: ‘Dear @LenMcCluskey, have you literally not read a word about the crimes we know Vote Leave & Leave.EU committed? Talk me through this ‘democratic fabric’? This vote paid for by £ now under investigation. What is your deal?’
Political commentator Will Hutton said: ‘So sad that Len McCluskey sells his country, party and union down the river. Industrial policy in 2020s is about setting global standards and capturing share in global supply chains via the EU- not state writing bottomless cheques which trading partners veto. EU = jobs and growth.’
McCluskey responded to the criticism by urging viewers of the video to watch the full interview.
He tweeted: ‘To be clear to those tweeting about @itvpeston the full version shows my view is a 2nd ref now is not the best option for our nation. What is, is a PM who takes no deal off the table, removes red lines, including a CU [customs union], and acts in the interests of our country, not hard right MPs.’