Mon, Apr 15, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Corbyn told to back new EU referendum or lose supporters

The Observer

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks in the British House of Commons in London on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE / UK parliament Jessica Taylor handout

The UK’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been warned by the party’s leader in the European Parliament and other grandees that the party would be deserted by millions of anti-Brexit voters if it fails to clearly back a second referendum in its manifesto for next month’s EU elections.

The message from Richard Corbett, who leads Labour’s 20 members of the European Parliament, came amid growing fears at the top of the party that it could lose a generation of young, pro-EU voters if it does not guarantee another public vote.

That age group, as well as many other Remainers, could turn instead to unambiguously anti-Brexit parties, including the fledgling independent group Change UK, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Scottish Nationalist Party, lawmakers said.

“If Labour does not reconfirm its support for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal in its manifesto, then it will hemorrhage votes to parties who do have a clear message. If on the other hand we do offer clarity and a confirmatory ballot we could do very well,” Corbett said.

While Labour has said it is keeping the option of a second referendum on the table in talks with the British government, some key figures close to Corbyn have been reluctant to confirm that another public vote would be held on any deal that is agreed and approved by the British parliament.

This has prompted speculation that there might be no commitment to one in Labour’s European election manifesto.

Former British foreign secretary Margaret Beckett, a Labour member, also called for the manifesto to back a second public vote, saying: “It is very important that there is a clear message about where Labour stands and what Labour is offering. In my view that clear and simple message should be that there should be a confirmatory vote of the British people.”

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