News | Published March 18 2019

Labour set to back confirmatory public vote on Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he will likely whip MPs to support an amendment for a "confirmatory" referendum on May's Brexit deal.

The Kyle-Wilson amendment, drafted by Labour backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, calls for the withdrawal agreement to be "approved by the people of the United Kingdom in a confirmation ballot."

On Sunday, Corbyn told Sophy Ridge on Sky News that “if the amendment is as I set out, yes we will be supporting it.” Though conditional upon its leadership “checking the wording”, the Labour party will be preparing to whip in support the amendment to be tabled this week.

Corbyn has said that Labour “would favour a credible choice referendum” but stressed that he remains committed to pushing for a softer Brexit following Labour's five demands – these proposals address the customs union, market access, and securing rights and environmental and consumer protections.

This follows days after Labour abstained from an amendment calling for a second referendum brought forward by Independent Party MP Sarah Wollaston. Labour MPs were ordered to abstain despite Labour party policy supporting a second referendum. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer explained that “we are supportive of the principle, but it’s a question of timing.”

In spite of the whip, 41 Labour MP's rebelled with 24 voting to support a referendum and 17 voting to oppose, resulting in a handful of junior frontbench resignations.

In his interview with Sophy Ridge, Corbyn made clear that Labour will not support May's Brexit deal, which he described as having been “defeated comprehensively.”

Labour MP and architect of the amendment Peter Kyle has said of the Labour leadership’s referendum stance that “I’ve seen for myself how they’ve moved from inquisitiveness to enthusiasm.”

When asked whether he was indeed enthusiastic about a referendum, Corbyn responded “I’m enthusiastic about getting a deal with Europe which guarantees our future trading relationship, protects jobs and industries in this country – and I do think people should have a choice on that.”

An amendment backed by Labour’s whip will be a telling moment in whether there are the numbers in parliament for a second public vote.

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Authored by

Daisy Carter
March 18 2019

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