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Jeremy Corbyn prepares for struggle over Brexit referendum position | Politics News

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Jeremy Corbyn is pushing for Labour to delay its decision on whether to campaign for Remain or a renegotiated Brexit deal in another referendum until after the next election.

He is urging delegates at the party’s annual conference to support the move, which the leader’s allies insist have been approved in a vote by its ruling body – the National Executive Committee (NEC).

A source close to Mr Corbyn told Sky News it passed by 16 votes to 10, with one abstention.

Jeremy Corbyn has defended his position on Brexit
Image:
Jeremy Corbyn has defended his position on Brexit

Other major developments include:

  • Deputy leader Tom Watson insisted Labour must back Remain in another referendum, urging the party to “work positively together”
  • Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry warned Labour could lose 30% of its vote to the Greens and Lib Dems if its position is not clear on the EU
  • Labour members voted to support effectively abolishing private schools and redistributing their property to the state sector in the party’s next manifesto
  • Police removed a banner outside the conference showing the leader of Israel firing missiles saying “defamation” at Mr Corbyn
Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer at the Anti-Brexit 'Trust the People' march and rally held by the People's Vote campaign during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton
Image:
Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer at the anti-Brexit ‘Trust the People’ march

The row over Brexit will come to a head when Labour members vote on the party’s official motion at conference in Brighton on Monday.

It says the NEC believes “the party shall only decide how to campaign in such a referendum – through a one-day special conference, following the election of a Labour government”.

Jennie Formby, Labour’s general secretary, emailed all MPs after the NEC meeting on Saturday to confirm it had been voted through.

Unite union boss Len McCluskey, a key ally of Mr Corbyn, called on the party’s senior figures to fall in behind the policy or “step aside”.

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He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We must go in to an election united, and when we have a policy on Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn makes it clear that that is the policy, then that is what leading members of the shadow cabinet should argue for.

“If they find that they can’t argue for it because they feel strongly, well of course they have that right but they should step aside.”

But deputy leader Mr Watson tried to push back on the policy hard.

He told Sky News: “The importance for me this week is that our delegates decide what our position is. I think it’s up to our membership to decide whether we’re going for Leave or Remain.

“It seems to me logical and pretty simple that we can make that decision this week, and I hope we can.”

And London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky News that “we may leave this conference without anybody being any the wiser what our position is”.

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