Corbyn referendum pressure after Labour’s Brexit plan defeated

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: SWNS
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: SWNS
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Campaigners for a second EU referendum have said Jeremy Corbyn must now swing fully behind a so-called People’s Vote after Labour’s alternative Brexit plan was defeated in the Commons.

In a set of votes on Brexit amendments, the Labour Party’s proposal for a Brexit deal based on a customs union with the EU was defeated by 240 votes to 323.

The vote prompted Labour MPs in favour of a fresh EU vote to call for an immediate change in focus by the party’s front bench.

However, in a sign of continued resistance to a People’s Vote from some of Mr Corbyn’s allies, the shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon claimed that “given parliament looks set to extend Article 50, there’ll be further opportunities to secure support for Labour’s alternative Brexit deal”.

MPs also rejected an SNP amendment ruling out a no deal Brexit under any circumstances by 288 votes to 324, undermining a previous decision to rule out leaving the EU without an agreement.

An amendment from the Labour MP Yvette Cooper seeking to hold the Prime Minister to her commitment to allow a vote on delaying Brexit if her deal is defeated again in two weeks’ time was passed by a wide 482-vote margin.

In a warning for the government, 20 Tory MPs voted against a three-line whip in favour of the amendment allowing a vote on extending Article 50, and another 88 abstained, pointing to the continued resolve of Tory Brexiteers.

Responding to the defeat of Labour’s Brexit plan, Alison McGovern MP, a leading supporter of People’s Vote, said: “There wasn’t a majority for the Prime Minister’s deal and the Conservatives won’t support Labour’s alternative Brexit. And there is no majority for a no-deal crash-out from the EU either.

“Labour policy was adopted unanimously at the party conference to campaign to give the people the choice of staying in the EU on the same terms as now or opting for a negotiated form of Brexit. The crisis is now so great the public must be heard.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said it was “utterly shameful” that Scottish Conservative MPs vote against their proposal to take no-deal off the table. “Labour must now join the SNP in unequivocally and explicitly backing a new referendum, with Remain on the ballot paper - to put the decision back to the people,” he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said “the battle to stop no deal Brexit is yet to be won”.

“This evening was a damp squib,” Mr Cable said. “Parliament could have come to a resolution and taken a chaotic no deal off the table.

“Instead it seems those Conservatives who oppose no deal Brexit have sold themselves too cheaply.”