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Labour shadow minister u-turns on a People's Vote after just 48 hours

PUBLISHED: 16:39 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 18 June 2018

Shadow Northern Ireland minister Stephen Pound

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A Labour shadow minister has backtracked on support for a vote on a final Brexit deal just 48 hours after pledging it.

Shadow Northern Ireland minister Stephen Pound filmed a video message on Saturday in which he clearly and unambiguously backed a People's Vote, saying there was a need "to have a cold evaluation".

But today he was forced into a humiliating u-turn, releasing a statement via the party claiming what he had actually been calling for was a meaningful vote for MPs on the withdrawal agreement.

It makes him the latest in a number of Labour shadow ministers who have suggesting supporting a referendum on the deal only to quickly backtrack. It is the party's official policy to oppose any second referendum on Brexit.

In the video message, Mr Pound said: "This decision is not something we can just forget about a week later. This is a decision that is going to affect my grandchildren, their children and every single generation of this country - it is so, so serious that we have to have a cold evaluation.

"This shouldn't be about ludicrous slogans on the side of a bus. This should be about the future of the European ideal - for us and for all future generations. Support a people's vote."

But in a statement issued by Labour today, the Ealing North MP said: "I respect the result of the referendum and fully support the position of Labour's frontbench; the vote I want to see is a meaningful vote in Parliament."

Previous frontbenchers who have supported a People's Vote only to swiftly u-turn include shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who told a constituent in November that she supported a vote before retracting her comments, and shadow international development secretary Preet Gill, who was forced to delete a tweet which stated "a people's vote on the deal is an absolute must".

Eloise Todd, CEO of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said: "There's nothing for Labour to fear from keeping our country's options open. The Labour Party membership are vastly opposed to Brexit and Labour voters want to stay in the EU by a majority of two to one in most constituencies.

"The sooner the Labour Party official line changes to be open to staying in the EU, the better - the current course of the Government's Brexit puts the country on a terrible collision course."

Mr Pound has previous been met with ridicule after weeping over Big Ben being silenced for four years while repair works were underway. He said: "Brightness has fallen from the air, the sound has gone."

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