Labour rules out second referendum on Brexit

Tareq Haddad

The Labour Party has said it will not support a second referendum on Brexit, following speculation that Jeremy Corbyn might back a renewed vote at the end of the two-year negotiations with the EU.

Corbyn failed to rule out the idea while taking questions after his first major speech of the general election campaign, and some reports on Thursday (20 April) suggested that Labour were mulling the proposal in a bid to win support among Remain voters.

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However, a spokesman for the Labour leader later confirmed that it is not a policy the party will take forward.

"A second referendum is not our policy and it won't be in our manifesto," the spokesman told The Independent.

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The Times reports that senior Labour figures were pushing Corbyn to back promising voters a second vote if an unfavourable deal with the EU was reached.

However, Corbyn and Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, are said to have reservations about such a pledge over fears that it would appear meaningless and might signal to Leave voters that Labour was seeking to block Brexit.

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The quandary highlights a key challenge that Labour needs to address if it has any hope of reversing its wretched polling numbers, which so far suggest a heavy defeat at the 8 June election.

Two-thirds of Labour supporters voted in favour of remaining in the EU last June, but a majority of voters backed Brexit in two-thirds of the seats that the party holds.

So far Labour has focussed on domestic issues such as child poverty, the housing crisis and the NHS crisis, and has failed to establish a strong line on Brexit.

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