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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to back Brexit referendum after MPs reject his plan | Politics News

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Jeremy Corbyn has declared Labour will back a referendum on Brexit, ending a years-long power struggle within the party.

The Labour leader threw his support behind the campaign for a national poll after his own plan to renegotiate a Brexit deal was rejected by MPs.

He declared the party would “continue to push for the other available options” to prevent a no-deal divorce with the European Union.

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)
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The UK is scheduled to leave the EU with or without a deal on 29 March

The announcement marks a significant shift in Labour’s strategy.

Mr Corbyn played down the campaign for a “People’s Vote” in an exclusive interview with Sky News last November.

He called it an “option for the future… not an option for today”, after having warned the week before to German media that “we can’t stop” Brexit.

Then-Labour MPs admitted there would never be a referendum on Brexit without Mr Corbyn’s support, Luciana Berger accusing him of “facilitating a jobs-destroying Brexit”.

The issue centred on a contentious row over Labour’s Brexit policy decided at its national conference in September.

It vowed to push for a general election, but agreed if it could not get one “Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.

The Labour Party is backing a second referendum after months of wrangling
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One Labour MP said they had ‘no intention’ of backing another national poll

After tabling unsuccessful no-confidence votes in Prime Minister Theresa May and her government, Mr Corbyn’s own plan for a “close economic partnership” with the EU was also defeated on Wednesday.

He announced afterwards: “We will back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome.”

Pro-EU campaigners have welcomed the news, although Mr Corbyn did not say what options would be on the ballot paper in such a public vote.

A Labour source heavily hinted that a Remain option would be on the ballot paper.

Labour's Brexit plans have been voted down by MPs
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MPs voted down Labour’s alternative Brexit plan on Wednesday

Mrs May has previously ruled out another referendum, her party chairman saying it would “take our country back to square one”.

Despite Mr Corbyn’s backing, there are still several Labour MPs who are deeply opposed to one.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon suggested there was more time for the party to push for its own version of Brexit before being forced to back another referendum.

“Given parliament looks set to extend Article 50, there’ll be further opportunities to secure support for Labour’s alternative Brexit deal.”

Article 50 is the automatic trigger of an EU treaty that takes Britain out of the bloc.

SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 25: British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her final press conference at the end of the Arab-European Summit on February 25, 2019 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders from European and Arab nations are meeting for the two-day summit to discuss topics including security, trade and migration. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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Theresa May has repeatedly ruled out calling a second referendum

Labour MP Julie Cooper also wrote she had “no intention of voting for a second referendum”.

Wednesday night’s dramatic Commons showdown also saw Mrs May formally accept two amendments.

Tory MP Alberto Costa was forced to resign for submitting his plan to protect EU and UK citizens’ rights in the event of a no-deal divorce.

And Labour’s Yvette Cooper bid to give MPs further votes on endorsing no-deal or delaying Brexit, if there is still no agreement ratified by parliament by mid-March.

The UK is on course to leave the EU on 29 March by default – with or without a deal.

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