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Jeremy Corbyn defies call to start referendum campaign ‘now’ | Politics News



Jeremy Corbyn has defied calls from Labour MPs to start campaigning for a Brexit referendum but agreed any deal passed by parliament should be put to one.

In a move that stoked anger from campaigners for another vote, the Labour leader declared he supported a “public vote” in the form of a general election or another referendum.

He did not bend to pressure from his shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who said this week it was “highly unlikely” there would be a general election and campaigning for another referendum should begin “now”.

The Labour Party is backing a second referendum after months of wrangling
Michel Barnier has said the current deal is the ‘only option’ on offer

Other senior Labour figures including Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and Tom Watson have been calling for the party to take a clearer stance on a referendum.

They were spurred into action by Labour’s performance in the European elections this week, which saw Labour pushed into third place behind the Brexit Party and Liberal Democrats.

Addressing the calls, Mr Corbyn said on a trip to Ireland on Thursday: “But faced with the threat of no deal and a prime minister with no mandate, the only way out of the Brexit crisis ripping our country apart is now to go back to the people.

“Let the people decide the country’s future, either in a general election or through a public vote on any deal agreed by parliament.”

The Irish Times reported he told journalists in Dublin that a second referendum would not be a “re-run of 2016”, but “would be on a negotiated deal or alternatives to that”.

Asked if it would not be another “in-out” referendum, Mr Corbyn said: “It would be on the basis of whatever we have succeeded in negotiating.”

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McDonnell: ‘Our only option now is a referendum’

Labour MP Wes Streeting told Sky News Labour had already suffered numerous election “beatings” over its refusal to campaign for another referendum.

“Our members and voters who decided to vote Lib Dem or Green will feel vindicated in their choice having heard this latest equivocation,” he said.

“It doesn’t go nearly far enough…

“Lots of people on the left are blaming senior advisors, but ultimately the buck stops with Jeremy Corbyn. The triangulation must stop.”

Wes Streeting MP talks at the Progress annual conference, Central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 16, 2015. See PA story  . Photo credit should read: Laura Lean/PA Wire
Wes Streeting told Sky News the vow ‘doesn’t go nearly far enough’

Another Labour MP, Bridget Phillipson, said Mr Corbyn was “at last beginning to listen” but given there was “no immediate prospect of a general election” he should throw his weight behind the People’s Vote campaign.

The issue has threatened to open up a split within Labour, after former Downing Street spin doctor Alistair Campbell was expelled for voting Liberal Democrat and Cherie Blair was reported to have done the same in the European elections.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14: Supporters of the 'People's Vote' campaign group demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament, calling for another referendum on the Brexit decision, on January 14, 2019 in London, England. MPs will vote tomorrow on whether to support the Prime Minister's Brexit plan, which has faced criticism from all supporters on both sides of the debate. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Tory leadership candidates have all ruled out backing another referendum

Tory leadership candidates vying to replace Theresa May have all ruled out another referendum.

But some of their suggestions to renegotiate the Brexit deal brokered by the current prime minister have been rebuffed by the EU’s chief negotiator.

Michel Barnier said: “If the UK wants to leave in an orderly manner, this treaty is the only option.”

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