Corbyn accused of aiding ‘job-destroying Brexit’ as MPs pull referendum bid

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “facilitating a job-destroying Brexit” by pro-remain MPs as they dropped plans for an amendment calling for a second referendum.

Opposition backbenchers Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna, and Conservative chairwoman of the influential Commons Liaison Committee Sarah Wollaston were among those who had backed the cross-party amendment.

But they said on Thursday that it would not be tabled, with Liverpool Wavertree MP Ms Berger saying it was “because the Labour leadership and frontbench won’t back a People’s Vote”.

It came as Mr Corbyn said “I do not want to re-run the 2016 referendum” when asked on Thursday about whether Labour would swing behind a fresh public vote.

He also suggested that it could not be taken for granted that Labour would endorse another cross-party amendment tabled by former minister Yvette Cooper and Tory Nick Boles that seeks an extension to the Article 50 period beyond March 29.

Blaming her own front bench’s lack of support for the decision to pull her amendment, Ms Berger said: “This is not good enough. Labour should be clearly setting out a different course, not facilitating a job-destroying Brexit.”

She added: “The Labour leadership has a really crucial role to play. The clock is ticking and, at this late stage, we appeal to Jeremy Corbyn to do the right thing by the majority of our voters, supporters and members and back a People’s Vote.

“The time for action is now.”

Labour Party annual conference 2018
Labour Party annual conference 2018

Dr Wollaston said that a People’s Vote amendment could pass with the “unequivocal backing” of the Labour leadership.

“I think that is where we will get to eventually,” she said. “Unfortunately we are rolling ever closer to the edge of a cliff. The time for constructive ambiguity is over.”

But speaking on a Thursday visit to Wolverton, near Milton Keynes, Mr Corbyn highlighted an amendment he tabled which calls for “the ability to have a vote on any deal that is finally agreed”.

He added: “I do not want to re-run the 2016 referendum. Our party conference had a comprehensive motion that was carried and that is what I have put before Parliament (for) next week.”

Asked whether Labour – which has tabled its own amendment – would give official backing to Ms Cooper’s amendment, he added: “We will decide at the time whether we fully support it or not.

“I had a very good meeting, a very useful meeting, with Yvette Cooper yesterday. I understand what she is saying, there is a lot of merit in it. We, as a party, will make a decision.”

Mr Corbyn reiterated his call for Mrs May to remove the threat of a no-deal Brexit, adding: “We are not calling for an extension of Article 50 but quite clearly if Theresa May runs the clock all the way down MPs are going to recognise the dangers of leaving with no deal.”