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Labour announces backing for a second Brexit referendum | Politics News | Sky News

Labour has announced it will back a second referendum on Britain’s EU exit to prevent a “damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country”.

Jeremy Corbyn will tell a meeting of Labour MPs that the party will support or put forward an amendment in favour of a public vote in order to avoid such a scenario.

“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,” he is due to tell them.

“We cannot and will not accept.”

Mr Corbyn will add: “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.”

It comes after Theresa May admitted she will not get a revised Brexit deal in time for MPs to hold a “meaningful vote” on it this week.

Instead, MPs will again get the chance to table amendments and try to alter the future course of Brexit, including attempts to extend Article 50 and rule out leaving without a deal.

Labour will put forward its alternative Brexit plan for MPs to vote on, as well as backing an amendment from Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory MP Oliver Letwin aimed at stopping Britain leaving without a deal.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said if Labour’s amendment is rejected the party would then “deliver on the promise we made at our annual conference and support a public vote”.

His shadow cabinet colleague, Angela Rayner, tweeted: “The prime minister is acting reckless and we cannot sit by and allow that to happen.

“I don’t want to be in this position but the PM just won’t listen to reason. She’s running down the clock & it has to stop #Brexit #PeoplesVote.”

Labour MP Peter Kyle said as he left the parliamentary Labour Party meeting: “There’s no turning back for Jeremy now.”

The move is a significant shift in position for the Labour leader, who has been under pressure to back a second referendum for months.

Nine MPs have left the party in the last week, with many of them unhappy with Mr Corbyn’s stance on Brexit.

Labour’s annual conference in September adopted a motion which left the option of the party backing a second referendum on the table, if it could not secure a general election.

The party failed in a bid to remove the government in a confidence vote last month – and the prospect of a general election appears to be remote.

Campaigners have welcomed the news, although Mr Corbyn did not say what options would be on the ballot paper in such a public vote.

Supporters of a second referendum welcomed the shift, with the Labour leader immediately coming under pressure to include an option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “We welcome this news, this could be a defining moment in the Liberal Democrat campaign for a People’s Vote.

“My party will work with Labour and others to secure a People’s Vote with an option to remain.”

Labour MP David Lammy, a backer of the People’s Vote campaign, said: “These are dangerous times for the Labour Party and our country.

“Jeremy Corbyn is today taking the first step to reunite our party by showing he is listening to our voters and members on this, the biggest issue of our time.”

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis, accused the Labour leader of wanting to “betray the will of the British people and ignore the biggest democratic vote in our nation’s history”.

He said: “Corbyn’s Labour have ripped up their promise to respect the referendum result and are now pursuing a divisive second referendum that would take us back to square one.

“Once again it’s clear: Jeremy Corbyn is using Brexit to play his own political games.”

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