Poll: Thousands could quit Labour over Brexit stance

Jeremy Corbyn has come under pressure to back a People's Vote.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Jeremy Corbyn has come under pressure to back a People's Vote. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing further pressure to back a second Brexit referendum after polling showed support among party members for another vote.

Mr Corbyn has resisted calls from within his party to back a referendum, instead calling for a general election and promising to strike his own Brexit deal with Brussels.

But a study of more than 1,000 Labour members found that 72 per cent want Mr Corbyn to throw his weight behind a so-called People’s Vote.

Outside the membership, the study also found backing for a second vote among Labour supporters, with some 57 per cent of current Labour voters and 61 per cent of those who backed the party at the 2017 election wanting Mr Corbyn to “fully support” a fresh referendum.

The research also suggested that tens of thousands of Labour members could be prepared to quit the party over the issue.

Professor Tim Bale, of Queen Mary University London, said: “Our survey of Labour’s grassroots clearly shows that ­Corbyn’s apparent willingness to see the UK leave the EU – a stance he has recently reiterated – is seriously at odds with what the overwhelming majority of Labour’s members want, and it doesn’t reflect the views of most Labour voters.”

The work was carried out by YouGov for the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Party Members Project.

Some 29 per cent of Labour’s rank-and-file members said they oppose the stance that the party has taken on Brexit – and 56 per cent of those told researchers it has caused them to consider quitting.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Labour members put Mr Corbyn’s failure to back a second referendum down to a belief that he supports Brexit. That proportion would be equivalent to around 88,000 members, according to the project’s analysis.

If there is another referendum, some 88 per cent of Labour members said they would back Remain.

Prof Bale said: “Our survey suggests Labour’s membership is overwhelmingly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU and badly wants a referendum to achieve that end. It also suggests that Labour voters, while not as keen as the party’s members on either count, are in the same camp.

“Labour’s grassroots clearly hate Brexit and, although many of them still love Corbyn, he might not be able to rely for much longer on their support.”

Labour MP Phil Wilson said: “An overwhelming majority of Labour’s voters, as well as its members, want the public to have the final say on Brexit and to stay in the European Union.

“But the leadership has too often hidden behind myths that Labour is almost evenly divided on this issue when the evidence from this and other polls shows it is the leadership which is increasingly out of step with its supporters.”