News | Published June 22 2019

Labour MPs warn Corbyn not to back Remain camp on Brexit

More than 25 Labour MPs have reached out in a letter to party leader Jeremy Corbyn imploring him not to throw the party’s weight behind remaining in the EU.

Caroline Flint, Lisa Nandy, Jim Fitzpatrick, Stephen Kinnock and Dan Jarvis are among the letter’s signatories.

The MPs advised Corbyn that such a vote would be “toxic” and could empower the “populist right”, with the Labour Party yet to declare its position on a second referendum on EU membership.The letter says that: "a commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our party”.

The MPs, many of whom head pro-Leave constituencies, also urged Labour leaders to back a withdrawal agreement by the Brexit deadline of October 31 even if it forced compromises.

The letter also declares that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party must be regarded as a “potent” threat within Labour constituencies, particularly those in favour of Leave, and pointed out the party’s losses in May’s local elections, particularly in the North East and the Midlands.

Yet a large number of Labour MPs believe that any deal on UK withdrawal must be put to the public alongside the option to remain.

Speaking at a Shadow Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Corbyn said that he felt it “right” to put any deal with Brussels “to a public vote” following Labour’s disappointing return in the European Parliament elections in May.

Corbyn, speaking on such a vote, said: “Any ballot paper would need to contain real choices for both Leave and Remain voters. This will, of course, depend on Parliament.”

However, the Labour leader said he would consult with colleagues within the party and trade unions before declaring the party’s position.

Deputy leader and vocal Remainer Tom Watson told ITV that the party must “make a clear statement of intent” that it saw the UK’s future being in the EU or risk being “electoral history”.

Watson sees the Liberal Democrats’ success in the European elections as a result of their clear Remain stance on Brexit, in contrast to Labour’s lack of clarity.

According to the BBC, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also said at the shadow cabinet meeting on Wednesday that Labour could no longer “triangulate” on Brexit and attempt to find centre-ground between the Leave and Remain camps.

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Authored by

The Parliamentary Review

June 22 2019

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