Labour must now offer second referendum to stop Farage, says Tom Watson
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Labour must back a second Brexit referendum in order to respond to the electoral challenge posed by Nigel Farage, the party's deputy leader Tom Watson said.
He said the party could not 'sit on the fence' on the biggest issue facing the country, in comments which appear aimed at putting pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to make a second referendum a red line issue in Brexit talks with Theresa May.
A 'confirmatory' referendum on any deal was 'the very least' that voters should expect, Watson said.
Writing in the Observer, the Labour deputy leader said: 'Labour won't defeat Farage by being mealy-mouthed and sounding as if we half agree with him.
'We won't beat him unless we can inspire the millions crying out for a different direction.
You may also want to watch:
'We won't win if we sit on the fence about the most crucial issue that has faced our country for a generation.'
He added: 'Now that we know a bit more about what Brexit means, the very least that Leavers and Remainers deserve is a final say - a confirmatory referendum - on any deal.
- 1 Brexiteer Prue Leith quits Tory Party after government votes down motion to protect UK food standards
- 2 Public slams Brexit Party tweet which shames Tory MPs who voted against free school meals
- 3 Piers Morgan must expose the government's Brexit betrayal
- 4 Peers set to remove law-breaking sections of Boris Johnson's Brexit bill
- 5 Group in protest against Tory MPs who voted down free school meals targets offices with empty plates
- 6 Tory minister blames journalists for NHS Test and Trace failure as he defends Dido Harding
- 7 Michel Barnier postpones Brussels return as Brexit trade talks in London continue
- 8 James Cleverly mocked after telling people to 'look at how they're doing in Wales'
- 9 Dido Harding is struggling to defend the indefensible
- 10 Boris Johnson and Priti Patel urged to end 'attacks' on lawyers in letter by 800 legal professionals
'They deserve a Labour party that offers clarity on this issue, as well as the radical vision for a new political economy achieved by working with our socialist allies inside the EU.
'And, above all, they deserve better than Nigel Farage's promise of a far-right Brexit that would solve nothing.'
Farage accused Watson of breaking his promise to the British people, claiming a second referendum would be 'a total insult' to five million Labour Leave voters.
'I now intend to wholeheartedly target Labour lies and dishonesty in the weeks ahead,' he warned.
Responding to the challenge posed by Mr Farage and his Brexit Party, Corbyn insisted Labour was not 'worried about him', dismissing his platform as 'simple populism'.
Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror: 'Farage just says 'let's get out of Europe without a deal'.
'But I do think he has to be challenged. If you just walk away from Europe, the complications are immense. There's a very integrated manufacturing process with us and Europe. Many of our factories rely on just-in-time deliveries from Europe and deliver to Europe on a just-in-time basis.
'If that is disrupted there are massive problems.'
The momentum generated by Farage's Brexit Party has also sent shockwaves through the Conservative Party.
A survey of 781 Conservative councillors for the Mail On Sunday found 40% were planning to back the Brexit Party at the May 23 European elections.
Just over half - 52% - said they would vote Tory at the European election, a figure that would rise to 65% if Theresa May was replaced by Brexiteer Boris Johnson, the Survation poll found.
Some 15% of those surveyed said they believed Farage would be the best leader of the Conservative Party - only Johnson was ahead of him on 19%.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.