Diane Abbott becomes the latest Labour figure to speak out against party position on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 14:42 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:32 27 June 2019

Diane Abbott after addressing the Labour Party's annual conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Diane Abbott after addressing the Labour Party's annual conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Diane Abbott has become the latest shadow cabinet figure to publicly express concerns about the party's policy on Brexit.

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The shadow home secretary - one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies - tweeted she was "beginning to worry" whether the party had got its strategy right.

Her intervention will add to the pressure on the Labour leader to fully embrace a second EU referendum - something he has so far resisted.

It follows a reportedly fractious shadow cabinet meeting when Corbyn again delayed a decision on whether the party needed to change course.

Following Labour's dismal showing in last month's European elections, deputy leader Tom Watson and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry have both publicly called for the party to come out in favour of another public vote.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, another of Corbyn's close allies, is also reported to have voiced frustration at the continuing stalemate on the issue.

Responding on Twitter to a tweet expressing concern about Labour's stance, Abbott said: "Like you I have supported Labour's Brexit strategy so far. But like you I am beginning to worry..."

But with many voters in Labour's traditional heartlands strongly supporting Brexit, a party source said there were "no easy answers" as to the way forward.

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"Jeremy is trying to bring the whole movement together around a common position on this deeply polarising issue," the source said.

"No-one should pretend there are any easy answers."

When asked whether he agreed, Corbyn simply said: "No."

He said: "Hunt and Johnson are vying with each other about who can be the most hair-shirted on leaving the EU without a deal - it would be devastating for jobs, for industry, for services all across this country."

Corbyn added: "We will come to a definitive position so that we go into conference absolutely agreed on this, but let's be clear: Labour will do everything we can to stop a no-deal exit, a catastrophic exit from the EU."

Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said that "Labour needs to be the stop Brexit party".

She continued: "It's as simple as that.

"Labour members and voters are crying out for the party to oppose Brexit. Diane Abbott won't be the only Labour MP worrying about the party's unclear position on this.

"The party is bleeding remain support and needs to act quickly to stop the rot."

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