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Labour MPs join campaign to force Jeremy Corbyn to back new Brexit referendum

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LONDON — Dozens of Labour MPs have declared their support for a new Brexit referendum as they battle to pressure Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn into throwing his weight behind a new public vote.

The group of 71 Labour MPs were unveiled as supporters of the People’s Vote campaign for a new referendum on Wednesday morning after MPs roundly rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday evening.

The Labour leader is officially committed to leaving the option of a second referendum on the table but has so far resisted growing calls to explicitly back one.

Sources close to the Labour leader told Business Insider in December that the party had conducted private polling and focus groups in target marginal seats which suggested that the party could lose the next general election if they back a People’s Vote.

Despite this Corbyn is under huge pressure to back a new referendum from a growing number of Labour MPs and the vast majority of the party’s overwhelmingly pro-EU membership.

Labour’s current Brexit policy — agreed at its most recent party conference — is to force a snap general election, win it, and then go ahead with the UK’s exit from the EU on terms negotiated by a newly-elected Labour government.

However, if that fails, Labour is also committed to leaving all options on the table, including a “public vote” in the form of a second referendum.

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday that while there was “strong support” in the party for another referendum, their priority was forcing an early general election.

Corbyn tabled a vote of no confidence in May’s government on Tuesday evening in a move designed to bring it down and trigger a general election. The vote will take place later on Wednesday.

However, May is expected to survive the no confidence vote. A spokesperson for Corbyn suggested on Tuesday that he could table multiple no confidence votes, as “it will go on being the case that the best outcome is a general election.”

Senior campaigners for a People’s Vote told Business Insider last week that it’s “game over” if the pro-referendum movement cannot persuade the Labour leader to get on board.

The full list of Labour MPs backing a People’s Vote

Business Insider

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