Labour to shore up People’s Vote support - but would go into snap general election backing Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in London. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Major unions have agreed a unified approach to Labour's Brexit policy - promoting a second referendum on any Brexit plan - but backing Brexit at a snap general election.

Following Jeremy Corbyn's consultation with the major unions his party looks set to back a second referendum on any position presented by a Conservative government - whether that is on a new deal or a no-deal Brexit. It would call for Remain to be on the ballot and would campaign to stay in the European Union too.

But should there be a snap general election, it would try to negotiate its own Brexit deal that would be put to the people in a referendum, and would campaign for the public to back its plan.

The consensus from party backing unions including Unite, GMB and Unison is expected to be supported and adopted at the next meeting of Labour's shadow cabinet.

One union source told the Guardian: "Ultimately everybody just wants this to end. It would be an error to let this drag on until conference and have the battle on the conference floor. But it is right to reserve the position on a Labour-negotiated Brexit deal which could deliver the result of the 2016 referendum, it would be mad to say we would negotiate a deal and then campaign against it."

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Mike Buckley from Labour for a Peoples Vote told the Mirror: "The downside [is] voters want to hear 'Leave' or 'Remain' - and Labour's position will now be 'we don't know yet', which if we're not careful will look like more fence-sitting."

Other Remainers in the party have been more relaxed about the position - claiming victory for the change in position - and that the manifesto for a general election is an argument for another day.

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Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: "Remain is who we are. Our values are remain, our hearts are remain. Today is a step in the right direction but our members and supporters are clear that any kind of Brexit gives us less than we have now and Labour should not support it."

One Labour MP told the Financial Times the policy was designed to "spare the blushes" of Len McCluskey from Unite, who has opposed a second referendum.

He said: "If we get to a general election and renegotiation it's inconceivable that the mood in the Labour movement won't be to call the whole disaster off."

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