Labour has announced it will back moves for a second EU referendum in the coming weeks, in order to prevent what Jeremy Corbyn called “a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country”.
Corbyn will also table an amendment to the government’s Brexit motion setting out the five demands he spelled out to Theresa May as conditions of Labour’s backing for a Brexit deal, including a permanent customs union.
He will tell a meeting of Labour MPs on Monday evening that the party will back an amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper and the Tory Oliver Letwin that would legislate for a delay to the UK’s exit date in order to avoid no deal.
Brexit: Labour will back amendment for second referendum, says Corbyn – Politics live
And, in a statement, the party said it would “put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit”.
Corbyn will tell MPs the party “cannot and will not accept” May running down the clock towards no deal. He will say EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid found Labour’s alternative Brexit plan “serious and credible” and it could win support across the House of Commons.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
A Labour source suggested the party would not put forward its own efforts for a second referendum at the vote on May’s Brexit motion on Wednesday.
Instead, frontbench efforts will be focused on their own amendment for the Labour version of the Brexit deal. If that amendment is defeated, which is likely, Labour would need to back an amendment for a second referendum the next time the opportunity returned to the Commons.
That is likely to be at the next “meaningful vote” on May’s deal, which she had promised would be by 12 March.
MPs in the People’s Vote campaign have previously been cautious about laying an amendment for a second referendum unless they can be certain that it could win enough support – though the Lib Dems have previously laid their own amendments.
Significant numbers of Labour MPs are likely to abstain or vote against any plans for a second referendum, including a number of frontbenchers.
A separate amendment by the Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson would approve May’s deal subject to a fresh referendum, though senior Labour officials are thought to be uneasy about backing any amendment that endorses the Tory Brexit deal.
Instead, the party could potentially offer support to a differently worded amendment that spells out a Labour version of the exit deal, which could then be put to a referendum.
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