Scottish Labour group backs vote on final Brexit deal

A group of senior Scottish Labour parliamentarians have signed up to the 'People's Vote' movement which is calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Kezia Dugdale and Ian Murray are at odds with Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Kezia Dugdale and Ian Murray are at odds with Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The four Scottish Labour politicians have joined forces with six Scottish Lib Dems to support the campaign, putting them at odds with Jeremy Corbyn’s official policy on Brexit.

As UK Labour leader, Corbyn has said the party will honour the Leave vote.

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In a further sign of the divisions engulfing the party over EU withdrawal, the Scottish politicians have signed an open letter supporting the “People’s Vote” campaign supported by business figures and celebrities including actor Patrick Stewart and footballer Gary Lineker.

The Scottish Labour signatories are: former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale; MP for Edinburgh South Ian Murray; Catherine Stihler MEP and Martin Whitfield, MP for East Lothian.

The People’s Vote campaign was launched in London last month and since then it has attracted support from Labour MPs in the north of England including Luciana Berger and Maria Eagle.

Dugdale, Murray, Stihler and Whitfield are the first Labour politicians to sign up to the campaign north of the border.

They were joined by six Lib Dems: Scottish leader Willie Rennie; UK deputy leader Jo Swinson; Shetland MSP Tavish Scott; the Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael; Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine and Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton.

In their joint letter, the ten politicians quote analysis saying that Scotland’s economy would be £12.7 billion a year worse off as a result of EU withdrawal and economic growth would be hit by 9 per cent.

“In 2016, the people of Scotland voted in favour of staying in the European Union. As parliamentarians in Scotland we campaigned for Remain and we still believe the UK’s future is best served as a member of the EU,” the letter says.

“But there was a narrow victory for the Leave campaign in the referendum, and the government therefore triggered the Article 50 process.

“In that referendum, we don’t believe anybody voted to put jobs at risk, prolong austerity, or tear up our rights at work or as consumers. That is what is now at stake.

“The economic reality of Brexit is becoming clearer, and we haven’t even left the EU yet.”

Corbyn has said the UK should remain in the customs union post-Brexit, arguing that would solve the Irish border problem. The UK Labour leader, however, has suggested there should be a new relationship with the single market.

But the letter says the UK must remain in the single market to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

It adds: “The Single Market safeguards 80,000 jobs here in Scotland, and many more across the UK, and protects worker’s rights that we all take for granted.”

It also contrasts the EU referendum with the Scottish referendum, saying the electorate were unsure of the options during the Brexit vote.

“As each day goes by, new facts emerge that weren’t placed before the voters at the time of the referendum. The outcome of the Brexit negotiations will affect Scotland and the UK for generations to come.

“Because this is so important for our country’s future, we believe there should be a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.”

Last night a Labour spokesman said: “Labour wants a jobs-first Brexit in which we are part of a customs union and retain the benefits of the single market, including full tariff-free access with no new impediments to trade and where we keep existing rights, standards and protections.”