Corbyn to tell Labour: We WILL back a People’s Vote

PUBLISHED: 17:44 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:44 25 February 2019

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn during a speech at Labour Women's Conference in the Telford International Centre. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn during a speech at Labour Women's Conference in the Telford International Centre. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to back calls for a People’s Vote in the House of Commons.

It is expected Corbyn will tell a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party that it will support or put forward an amendment in favour of a People’s Vote to “prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country”.

He will say that the party will support amendments on a second referendum: “in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.”

This will include the Cooper-Letwin amendment that would extend Article 50 to allow for time for a public vote, and could include Peter Kyle’s amendment, although officials are uneasy about any motions that lend support to Theresa May.

The Labour leader is expected to say: “The prime minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous no deal. We cannot and will not accept.

“Last week, after our visit to talk to EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid, no one can be in any doubt Labour’s alternative Brexit plan is serious and credible. We are convinced our alternative, which puts jobs and living standards first, could command support in the House of Commons, bring people who voted Leave and Remain together, and be negotiated with the EU.

“That’s why we will be putting down an amendment in parliament this week setting out Labour’s plan: for a comprehensive customs union with a UK say; close alignment with the single market; guarantees on rights and standards; protection for Britain’s role in EU agencies; and a security agreement which guarantees access to the European arrest warrant and vital shared databases. And we will be calling for legislation to underpin this mandate.

“We will also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a no deal outcome. One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal.

“That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.”

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer clarified that Labour will first attempt to propose its own Brexit proposal of a customs union before moving to a People’s Vote in time for the Meaningful Vote.

Shortly after the announcement betmaker Ladbrokes suspended betting on a People’s Vote.

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham and a leading supporter of People’s Vote, welcomed the news.

“It is welcome news that the Labour Party is now, at long last, signalling it will accept the principle of giving the public the final say on Brexit. Even if MPs can agree some sort of deal, it would be wrong to force it on the British people when we now know so many of the promises made in 2016 have been broken and any deal will be worse than the one we’ve already got inside the EU.

“These are dangerous times for the Labour Party and our country. Jeremy Corbyn is today taking the first step to reunite our party by showing he is listening to our voters and members on this, the biggest issue of our time. But it is also crucial when food prices are already rising and car manufacturers are scrapping investment that we provide the clarity needed to plan for the future.

Clive Lewis MP, representing the Best for Britain campaign, said Labour was now offering real opposition to the Tories’ Brexit plans.

“This decision is a hugely positive step for the Labour Party and our movement as a whole. With this announcement we’re now offering real and unambiguous opposition to Tory Brexit and giving the public the final say on the issue.

“To my mind we would never have been forgiven for facilitating Tory Brexit. Especially as the true nature of this project has become increasingly clear to the public these past two years. Namely that it is a hard right, deregulating, race to the bottom economic agenda that has not and will not hesitate to indulge in dog-whistle politics and worse.

“The Labour leadership is clearly stating that if Labour’s alternative Brexit proposal is defeated this week, we will swing fully behind giving the public the final say on whether to leave the EU or stay and rebuild Britain and create a Europe for the many.”

Best for Britain supporter Rachael Maskell MP added: “Labour voters and members across the country are clear that they didn’t vote for the mess Brexit has got us into.

“Labour must fight to rebuild Britain, and do so by working with European partners across the continent to reject the isolationist, divisive path the Tories have taken our communities on over recent years.”

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