The poll that demonstrated overwhelming union support for a second referendum is ‘absolute nonsense’, said Unite chief and close Corbyn ally Len McClusky.
He dismissed the YouGov poll that found that two thirds of members of the three biggest unions all support a remaining in the EU, because it had been commissioned by pro-Remain group People’s Vote.
“It is absolutely nonsense, I’m surprised you’re giving it such credence,” he told BBC’s Andrew Marr.
“Apprently it was 355 Unite members – who self-identified as Unite members, I don’t know that they are,” he said.
“Here’s the truth – my union constantly talks to 20,000 Unite members across all sectors. I have 300 constitutional committees, none of whom are seeking a second referendum.”
Len McCluskey: 'I'm comfortable' for any #Brexit deal to be put to a public vote— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) June 30, 2019
The General Secretary of the Unite Union says: 'The problem is how you get there'#Marr https://t.co/BVuXhwDFkC pic.twitter.com/VnoHGMbaFa
The poll, which was conducted by YouGov with nearly 2,000 members of the three top unions Unite, Unison and GMB, found that 71% of union members support staying in the EU and 64% back a second referendum.
McCluskey currently supports a second referendum on any Brexit deal – but only in the eventuality that there is a general election, Labour wins it, and gets the chance to renegotiate its own withdrawal agreement before October 31, all of which Marr called “extremely unlikely”.
McCluskey claimed the EU would wait for the outcome of a general election to allow a “proper deal” to be renegotiated, although EU leaders have repeatedly said there will be no renegotiations.
In a future referendum, McClusky said that faced with the option of a no-deal Brexit or Remain, he “suspects” Unite would back Remain because of how damaging it would be to the country, but would support a deal similar to Theresa May’s over Remain.
McClusky defended Jeremy Corbyn’s position, which has been criticised as unclear on either side of the Brexit debate, as necessary to his consensus-building approach, saying there had been too much of a hurry to take sides.
“He’s not being bullied into any position … what he’s doing is consulting,” said McCluskey.
He blamed an incompetent Tory party and a “well-funded Remain lobby” for what he called a “toxic situation”.
“We’re about to get a new leader of the Tory party who is going to disregard half of the nation, and we’re about to get a new leader of the Liberal [Democrats] who is going to disregard the other half of the nation – Jeremy Corbyn and Labour is the only person who’s speaking for the whole nation,” he argued.