Corbyn under pressure to commit Labour to confirmatory Brexit deal referendum

Jeremy Corbyn will face pressure to commit Labour to a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal when his party’s governing body meet later to agree its European election manifesto.

The ruling National Executive Committee is to gather on Tuesday for a crunch meeting to finalise the party’s position on Brexit for next month’s polls.

It comes as cross-party talks aiming to break the impasse continue, with the de facto deputy prime minister David Lidington describing discussions on Monday as “positive” and “productive”.

And the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he hoped to see results this week from the talks, and reiterated a call to “fix Brexit quickly”.

Brexit
Michel Barnier said he hoped to see results this week from the cross-party talks (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Meanwhile Change UK – the Independent Group – will hold the first of its “People’s Vote Remain” rallies in London calling for a second referendum.

Ahead of the NEC meeting, Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson wrote to Mr Corbyn and all NEC members urging them to ensure that a confirmatory ballot is in the manifesto.

Mr Wilson told the Press Association that a referendum was backed by the majority of Labour MPs, MEPs, members and supporters and had featured in the policy approved by conference last autumn.

Labour MPs had twice been whipped in the Commons to support a motion tabled by the pair to require any Brexit deal to be subject to a public vote, he said.

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EU elections: opinion polls rolling seven-day average (PA Graphics)

“Three years on, we know more about what Brexit means and people should be allowed to compare what the deal is with what they were promised and decide whether they want to go ahead,” said Mr Wilson.

“If we don’t do it, the coming years will be divisive because people will be turning round and saying ‘Hang on, I didn’t vote for this’.”

Some 115 MPs and MEPs signed a letter to NEC members organised by the Love Socialism, Hate Brexit group urging them to explicitly back a referendum in the manifesto.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson used his Twitter account to urge followers to lobby NEC members to back a public vote.

And 22 Labour candidates in the European elections have pledged to campaign for a referendum and then back efforts to remain in the EU.

Meanwhile, some of Labour’s biggest union backers are also throwing their weight behind a referendum pledge.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Frankly it’s time for our party to act on the overwhelming wishes of its members and voters by pledging to support a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal.

“We will be pushing hard for this to be included in Labour’s European manifesto.”

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