Starmer says any cross-party Brexit deal must include a second referendum

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer at Labour Party conference. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer at Labour Party conference. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said that any cross-party Brexit deal must include a second referendum to get the backing of Labour MPs.

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Sir Keir Starmer warned it was "impossible" to see how an agreement between the Conservatives and Labour could clear the Commons unless it guaranteed the deal would be put back to the public for a "confirmatory vote".

Speaking to the Guardian, Starmer said his colleagues and the party leadership would have to decide "in the coming days" if it was worth continuing with the talks.

Meanwhile, the Times reported that Theresa May has been urged by cabinet ministers to pull out of the talks and move to indicative votes by MPs.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is said to be among those who have lost faith with the plan to strike a cross-party deal, while education secretary Damian Hinds expressed support for finding a "stable majority" by allowing MPs to vote on different options.

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"I've made it clear that at this stage, at this 11th hour, any deal that comes through from this government ought to be subject to the lock of a confirmatory vote," Sir Keir said.

The shadow minister said that "probably 120 if not 150" of the party's 229 MPs could vote against the deal unless it was linked to a second referendum.

"If the point of the exercise is to get a sustainable majority, over several weeks or months of delivering on the implementation, you can't leave a confirmatory vote out of the package," he said.

Sir Keir signalled that Labour expects movement from the government this week in order to keep the talks on track, telling the paper it "would be wrong in principle to use up much more time simply exploring each other's positions".

"I do think we do probably in the coming days need to make that assessment."

Sir Keir highlighted how the party lost 200 lost seats in this month's council elections, which he said were a sign Labour was losing the trust of Remain as well as Leave voters.

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