Labour risks 'electoral history' if it doesn't back People's Vote - Watson

PUBLISHED: 08:18 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:18 20 June 2019

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson. Photograph: ITV.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson. Photograph: ITV.


Labour risks becoming "electoral history" unless it campaigns to reverse Brexit in another referendum, the party's deputy leader has warned.

He told ITV's Peston: "If we do end up deciding we are going to campaign to remain in the EU it's history making.

"I think that's quite important because we could be electoral history if we don't make a clear statement of intent."

He added: "I think it is in the national interest that we become a pro-Remain, pro-reform party and we let the people have a final look at what any deal looks like."

Tom Watson's comments came after a shadow cabinet meeting which failed to go as far in shifting the party's position as anti-Brexit campaigners in the Labour ranks had hoped.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the meeting that a second referendum ballot paper would need to contain "real choices" for Leave and Remain voters.

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The party has agreed that any deal should be put to a public vote but has not yet decided whether it would campaign for remain if there was another ballot.

The party's deliberations would continue until Tuesday as Corbyn consults union chiefs and Labour's National Executive Committee, Watson said.

Pro-EU Labour MPs have called for the party to explicitly commit to another referendum and back remaining in the bloc.

Rachael Maskell, a supporter of the Love Socialism, Hate Brexit group, said: "As a party, we need to present a clear alternative to transform Britain and Europe, and we need to be energetic and enthusiastic about promoting it.

"Only a radical Labour message can keep us in Europe, and only by opposing Brexit can we be true to our values and set out a radical vision to transform the country.

"Our position must be crystal clear before Boris Johnson walks into Number 10."

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