Corbyn: Second referendum must have real choices for Leave and Remain voters

A second referendum ballot paper would need to contain "real choices" for Leave and Remain voters, Jeremy Corbyn has said, after he was warned that backing another poll would be "toxic" to the bedrock of the party's supporters.

The Labour leader reiterated his belief that any Brexit deal should be put to a public vote, despite 26 of his own MPs in mainly pro-Leave seats writing to him to urge that he puts the "national interest first" and backs a deal before October 31.

Mr Corbyn told the shadow cabinet on Wednesday afternoon: "We have committed to respecting the result of the referendum, and have strongly made the case for an alternative plan for Brexit as the only serious deal that could potentially command the support of the House.

"At Conference last year we passed our policy, the members' policy. Over the past nine months, I have stuck faithfully to it.

"A no-deal Brexit would plunge us into the worst excesses of disaster capitalism and trash our economy on the back of fantasy Tory trade deals or worse, very real and very damaging trade deals with Donald Trump, opening up our NHS to American companies."

He continued: "I have already made the case, on the media and in Dublin, that it is now right to demand that any deal is put to a public vote. That is in line with our conference policy which agreed a public vote would be an option.

"A ballot paper would need to contain real choices for both Leave and Remain voters. This will of course depend on Parliament. I want to hear your views, I will be hearing trade union views next week, and then I want to set out our views to the public."

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'One million' march in anti-Brexit protest
Delia Smith joins with anti-Brexit campaigners as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Richard Bacon and Mariella Frostrup address anti-Brexit campaigners in Parliament Square as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
NOTE LANGUAGE ON PLACARDS Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Protesters take part in the Put It To The People March on Whitehall on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to take part in the Put It To The People March, organised by the People’s Vote campaign, from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a public vote on the Government’s final Brexit deal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Protesters take part in the Put It To The People March on Whitehall on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to take part in the Put It To The People March, organised by the People’s Vote campaign, from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a public vote on the Government’s final Brexit deal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Anti Brexit activists stage a demonstration demanding a new referendum on the issue in London, United Kingdom on March 23, 2019. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People hold up a heart-shaped European flag placard as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators carry a placard depicting Theresa May, U.K prime minister, and European Union flags as they march during the anti-Brexit People's Vote rally in London, U.K., on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The campaign to give U.K. citizens a vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, twice defeated by Parliament, holds the rally after European Union leaders gave May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators carry placards and European Union flags as they march during the anti-Brexit People's Vote rally in London, U.K., on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The campaign to give U.K. citizens a vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, twice defeated by Parliament, holds the rally after European Union leaders gave May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators carry placards and banners as they march during the anti-Brexit People's Vote rally in London, U.K., on Saturday, March 23, 2019. The campaign to give U.K. citizens a vote on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, twice defeated by Parliament, holds the rally after European Union leaders gave May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of London during the People’s Vote March on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Organised by the People’s Vote Campaign the rally brought thousands of people from all over the country to the march through the streets with campaigners calling for the final Brexit deal to be put to the people. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
A puppet head of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May spearing a representation of the British Economy is taken on a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards and European flags as they pass Trafalgar Square on a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold up placards as they attend a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman holds up a placard calling for 'remain' as she attends a march and rally organised by the pro-European People's Vote campaign for a second referendum in central London on March 23, 2019. - Hundreds of thousands of pro-Europeans from across Britain were expected to march through London on Saturday calling for another referendum on EU membership with the country mired in political paralysis over Brexit. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE LANGUAGE ON SIGNS. Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable MP (C) takes part in the Put It To The People March on March 23, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of protesters gathered in central London to take part in the Put It To The People March, organised by the People’s Vote campaign, from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a public vote on the Government’s final Brexit deal. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A general view of Anti-Brexit campaigners as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. Picture credit should read: Matt Crossick/EMPICS
A general view of Anti-Brexit campaigners as they take part in the People's Vote March in London. Picture credit should read: Matt Crossick/EMPICS
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE LANGUAGE ON SIGNS. Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London.
Anti-Brexit campaigners take part in the People's Vote March in London.
EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
An EU supporter with the EU flag painted on her face, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participates in the 'People's Vote' march in central London, Britain March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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Rother Valley MP Sir Kevin Barron, Don Valley's Caroline Flint and Rotherham's Sarah Champion were among the signatories to the letter to Mr Corbyn, which said Labour support for a second referendum risked driving a wedge between traditional voters and the party.

They also warned that a no-deal Brexit would "alienate" many who supported the party at the last general election.

The letter follows poor results for the party in the European and local elections, and a narrow victory in the Peterborough by-election.

They wrote: "A commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation, and giving the populist right an even greater platform in our heartlands.

"Labour has a vital role to play fighting for a Brexit for the many, not the few. But this is a battle best fought in stage two, after the UK has left.

"Rejecting any Brexit in the hope of securing a perfect deal risks the worst outcome – a no-deal Brexit. This would further alienate many who backed Labour in 2017.

"We urge the party to put the national interest first, to back a deal before October 31."

It comes after reports that Mr Corbyn may change his party's Brexit policy and support a second referendum in all circumstances.

However, a Labour Party spokesman said: "As Jeremy said after the EU election results, he's engaging in a process of consultation on our Brexit position and that will continue this afternoon at shadow cabinet."

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