McDonnell says a People’s Vote is an option - but it wouldn’t include option to Remain

PUBLISHED: 09:12 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 24 September 2018

John McDonnell talks to breakfast television about Labour's position on Brexit and a People's Vote.  Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

John McDonnell talks to breakfast television about Labour's position on Brexit and a People's Vote. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has claimed that a People’s Vote from Labour might not include an option to Remain.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain McDonnell said the form of the question would be decided by parliament but said “it will be about whether you accept the deal or not, or whether you send people back to negotiate a proper deal”.

Instead he has insisted that the “real people’s vote” would be a general election.

He said: “What will be put to conference is what I’ve been arguing for for quite a bit - that we respect the referendum, of course we do, but we want a general election.

“But when Theresa May comes back with a supposed deal, we’ll see what she comes back with, we’ll put it against the tests we have advocated, the main test is about protecting jobs and the economy.

“If it doesn’t meet those tests, yes, we want a general election, but we will keep the option of a people’s vote on the table just in case.”

He acknowledged the debate “may be rumbustious” but said the chance of a general election would offer the opportunity to change the team carrying out the negotiations with Brussels, replacing Theresa May and her ministers.

McDonnell was speaking to breakfast television after the party finally thrashed out a motion that the leadership considered acceptable to put to members.

The text states “if we cannot get a general election, Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.

The weakened support for a People’s Vote is despite polls showing overwhelming support within the party membership for a referendum on the final deal, and thousands turning out over the weekend to march for a final say outside the party’s conference.

While some have accused the party of serving up more “fudge”, a People’s Vote campaign spokesman said the conference motion was “clear movement” towards adopting a referendum.

“The leadership knows where the members are and they know where their voters are.

“And the voices demanding a democratic final say on the outcome of Brexit negotiations are only going to get louder in the weeks to come as the gap between what was promised two years ago and reality gets wider.”

The spokesman added: “If this motion is passed by delegates on Tuesday, it will show that Labour now also recognises that if an election is not possible, it will have no real option but a People’s Vote.

“There are no other options available short of crashing out or relying on the EU to grant the government extra time to renegotiate.”

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