Pressure on Richard Leonard after Sadiq Khan backs new EU vote

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come out in favour of a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, adding to pressure on Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard to follow suit.

Labour’s most senior figure in government said the UK was headed for either a no deal Brexit, or a “bad deal” that would harm the economy, and suggested there could be “civil unrest” under either scenario.

Mr Khan backed the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign for a referendum on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal, offering voters the chance to accept the outcome of Theresa May’s negotiation or choose to stay in the EU.

READ MORE: Tony Blair: EU should make Britain an offer over Brexit
The London Mayor had previously said a fresh poll would lead to "even more cynicism".

But he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it would be wrong to have "watched it all fail and said I told you so."

He added: "It's really important that this is not a re-run of the referendum but the British public having a say for the first time on the outcome."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Sadiq Khan recognises that every day the promises made by the Leave campaign look less and less believable.

“What’s more he’s speaking for the overwhelming majority of Labour members and Labour voters who don’t want to see Britain leave the EU.

“Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn need to recognise that the tide has turned. If they’re serious about protecting public services and our NHS, it’s time for them to speak out too.”

Mr Corbyn will face intense pressure at Labour's autumn conference later this month to back a fresh Brexit poll.

Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary and an ally of Mr Corbyn, resisted the London Mayor’s call, saying a fresh referendum would give Mrs May a lifeline.

READ MORE: Labour ‘unlikely’ to back any Brexit deal, warns Emily Thornberry

He told Sky’s Ridge On Sunday programme: "Calling for a second referendum is really giving her a lifeline because then she can say 'Oh, if I can't get it through Parliament I'll go back to the people'."

Mr Gardiner said the first referendum had caused "real divisions" in the country. "I think the challenge now is to try to heal society," he said.

Labour has not taken the option of another referendum off the table. "The reason we have not ruled anything out is because nobody knows what's going to happen over the next few weeks," he said.