Shadow Scottish secretary raises doubts over delivering People’s Vote

Labour’s recent policy switch to support a second Brexit referendum could fail to deliver a People’s Vote, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench team has conceded.

Lesley Laird, shadow Scottish secretary, said while the party would “keep fighting” there is not sufficient support in the Commons for a People’s Vote to get the go-ahead.

Regarding the prospect of a second referendum, in which voters could choose between Theresa May’s deal and remaining in the European Union, Ms Laird said “that path is not smooth”.

She also used her speech to warn politicians who have spoken out against Mr Corbyn that “unity” in the party would be key to getting to the “right destination” of a Labour government.

Several MPs quit the party and formed The Independence Group, with dissatisfaction over Labour’s Brexit stance and handling of anti-Semitism allegations key among their reasons.

In Scotland, former leader Kezia Dugdale accused successor Richard Leonard of attempting to censor the party’s two Scottish MEPs.

Ms Laird, also deputy leader of Scottish Labour, told delegates that “unity is key to any winning team” and that “division only plays into Tory and SNP hands”.

She said: “On any journey there are always different routes to take but what is really important now is that we get to the right destination.

“And that we get there together. Ready to deliver a Labour government.”

On the subject of Brexit, she said: “Labour will not accept Theresa May’s botched Brexit. And Labour will certainly not accept no deal.”

With the PM facing a series of crunch votes in the Commons next week, she added: “Parliamentary processes will soon be exhausted with all options explored.

“And if there is no resolution that meets our tests then, as our conference motion compels us to do, we will seek to put it back to the people.”

In September last year, delegates at Labour’s UK conference had overwhelmingly backed keeping the option of a fresh ballot “on the table”.

But it was only last month, after Labour’s alternative Brexit proposals were rejected by MPs, that the party leadership spoke out in favour of a second European referendum.

Ms Laird said: “That path is not smooth. Right now there is no parliamentary majority for this.

“Ultimately no matter what outcome we want to achieve, if we can not get the numbers we will not win the vote.

“But we cannot give up. We must keep fighting. We must reject Theresa May’s shoddy deal and we must get no deal off the table.”

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