With just 32 days left until Britain is due to leave the EU, Jeremy Corbyn has finally announced a framework for a second referendum as agreed in the last Labour Party conference.
The Labour leader is telling his MPs tonight that if parliament does not back the Labour Party’s Brexit proposals, the public should have the final say to avoid a “damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country”.
Jeremy Corbyn will tomorrow table an amendment to the government’s Brexit motion with Labour’s five requirements for a “credible alternative plan.”
Labour’s five demands for the Brexit deal are:
- A permanent and comprehensive customs union with the EU;
- close alignment with the Single Market underpinned by shared institutions and obligations;
- dynamic alignment on rights and protections;
- commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, including in areas such as the environment, education, and industrial regulation; and
- unambiguous agreements on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases.
Shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer reiterated that if the Labour plans do not receive a majority in the Commons, “Labour will deliver on the promise we made at our annual conference and support a public vote. ”
Speaking at tonight’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, will say:
“The Prime Minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous No Deal. We cannot and will not accept.
“Last week, after our visit to talk to EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid, no one can be in any doubt Labour’s alternative Brexit plan is serious and credible. We are convinced our alternative, which puts jobs and living standards first, could command support in the House of Commons, bring people who voted Leave and Remain together, and be negotiated with the EU.
“That’s why we will be putting down an amendment in parliament this week setting out Labour’s plan: for a comprehensive customs union with a UK say; close alignment with the single market; guarantees on rights and standards; protection for Britain’s role in EU agencies; and a security agreement which guarantees access to the European arrest warrant and vital shared databases. And we will be calling for legislation to underpin this mandate.
“We will also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a No Deal outcome. One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent No Deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal.
“That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.”
The Labour Leader who returned from a flying visit to Europe, earlier insisted:
“After meetings in Brussels and Madrid, it’s clear that Labour’s alternative plan for Brexit is credible and could be negotiated with the EU. “
Theresa May today insisted that her Brexit deal could still be on track.
It is unclear what the terms of a Labour-supported referendum would be if the Labour conditions are not met.
Some sceptics questioned whether it would include the option of staying in the EU or whether it would be between Conservative and Labour proposals for leaving the EU.
However it has emerged that Labour MPs were briefed that Remain would be an option if the people were given the final say.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary also today confirmed that in such a scenario she and the Labour Leader would be campaigning to remain.
“We have been trying to make sure that we leave in a sensible way,” Emily Thornberry told the BBC.
“Of course I would campaign to remain,” insisted Thornberry, adding, “if it was a disastrous Brexit of course Jeremy would campaign to remain.”
While some gave credit for the announcement to Labour MPs who have left the party to form the Independent Group, other Labour MPs in leave-voting areas also were sceptical. Stephen Kinnock warned a second referendum would be divisive for the country.
Whether a majority of MPs would vote for such a motion remains to be seen.
But today’s announcement will please Labour Party members.
Labour MP David Lammy said today the “the vast majority of Labour Party opinion” is behind a new “public vote.”
Others warned that the move could unite the divided Conservative Party behind Theresa May’s flawed EU withdrawal agreement. Though she will need to sway many MPs to back it.