The Labour Party has become the first of the big two major political parties to back a second referendum if party members voted in favour of one.
Both leader Jeremy Corbyn and deputy Tom Watson announced to the media this weekend that they would be ready to “adhere to” any decision made at this week’s party conference, saying the view of the party members must be respected.
With over half a million people on its books Labour has one of the most representative memberships in UK politics, and according to recent polls, some 85 per cent of them back a vote on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.
The party has never formally rejected the option of a further vote but both Mr Corbyn and Mr Watson have indicated they would prefer the issue to be resolved by a general election.
Last week the Labour Group on Hounslow Council became one of more than 100 constituency parties to have submitted motions calling for the Labour policy on Brexit to be put to a vote. It will be up to representatives of those local Labour parties to get together and put all their different motions into one “composite” motion that is acceptable to everyone.
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said the final wording of any motion would be crucial and that Mr Corbyn would be hoping it did not tie his hands – but that some members would be pushing for a clear commitment to a new referendum.
In his interview with the Sunday Mirror, Mr Corbyn said: “I’m not calling for a second referendum. I hope we will agree that the best way of resolving this is a general election.
“But I was elected to empower the members of the party. So if conference makes a decision I will not walk away from it and I will act accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Mr Watson told the Observer there was “going to be pressure” for Labour to commit to another Brexit vote in its next election manifesto.
“If the people’s party decide they want the people to have a final say on the deal, we have to respect the view of our members and we will go out and argue for it,” he said.
According to the YouGov survey of 1,054 Labour members, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, 86 per cent wanted a final, public say on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, against eight per cent who opposed it.