Not voting Labour will let Nigel Farage win, warns party's deputy

PUBLISHED: 11:11 13 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:14 13 May 2019

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson addresses the People's Vote March in London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson addresses the People's Vote March in London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Labour's deputy leader said not voting for his party in the European elections will give Nigel Farage a win, and has reached out to Remainers by saying its agenda is to "remain and reform" in Europe.

Tom Watson is expected to plead in a speech at the Fabian Society for supporters to back Labour in the polls next week.

"There are only two forces that can win this election - that nasty nationalism of the Farage Brexit Party, or the tolerant, compassionate outward looking patriotism of the Labour Party," Watson will say.

"I can only plead with Labour supporters - don't stay at home, don't put that cross elsewhere, don't let them win."

Speaking before the speech, he told Radio 4's Today programme: "The difficulty is just parliamentary arithmetic and Keir Starmer has alluded to this today as well, and John McDonnell did last week.

"The whipping arrangements for these deals is very difficult because MPs have hardened their positions within their parties so I think it would be very difficult."

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"If a deal could be found that inspires enough votes in Westminster then fine, but it seemed to me that that's very, very difficult.

"And so my idea of a confirmatory ballot is not a religious point or a point of ideology, it's just how do you get an outcome, how do you sort this out?

"And one way to do it are these two minority positions - the prime minister's deal and those that think the people should have a say on the deal - plug them together and you build a majority."

Interim CEO of Best for Britain Naomi Smith said it would be a "stitch-up" not to have a confirmatory vote.

"It would be an unacceptable outcome for the future of our country to have been stitched-up in a dark meeting room.

"These talks won't work unless there's a commitment to giving the people a final say.

"Parties of all stripes must now make this a reality. The public's call for sign off on this awful Brexit process must be respected and delivered."

MORE: Not being the Tories is no longer enough for Labour, says Mitch Benn

MORE: I fought hard for Labour - but now they've lost my vote

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