Rumours that Labour will become the referendum party have gained a lot of mainstream traction of late, and there’s a good reason why.
Despite Jeremy Corbyn and other senior colleagues being openly sceptical of the merits of a so-called “confirmatory” referendum, the opportunity to squash the Tories in both European parliamentary and council elections could be too much to pass up for the party’s top brass.
Speaking in Brussels, one Conservative MEP told the Business Insider’s Adam Payne that they predict “brutal” European and local election results for the Tories. “Our vote could completely collapse… We will get absolutely hammered”, they said, and it’s hard to disagree.
With 48 per cent of those who voted to remain in 2016 on their side Labour could orchestrate a historic wipe out of the Tories, who would be left reeling as the party splits and voters lose confidence in their ability to handle Brexit competently.
Nine out of ten Brits dubbed Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit process a “national humiliation” in a recent poll, with a third saying the breakdown of the process is entirely the Conservative Party’s fault.
Anyone who thinks this wouldn’t be enough of a lure for Corbyn to change tack, you’d be wise to listen to the murmurings coming out from his senior team. According to ITV political editor Robert Peston shadow chancellor John McDonnell recently “volunteered” a commitment to hold a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal.
Peston said it could be a way of “entrenching” whatever Brexit entente Labour and the Government can reach, and that even those who are sceptical about a people’s vote are coming round to the idea that the party might upgrade the referendum idea “from option to formal first-choice policy”.
It would undoubtedly make sense. The vast majority of Labour’s membership back a second vote and there have been huge swings in public opinion since the country first cast a vote in 2016. Taking the line that any deal made between Labour and the Conservatives should be put to the people could return huge victories in upcoming elections, and most alluringly, turn the next General Election in their favour too.