Labour urged to come out ‘loud and clear’ for second Brexit referendum

Labour MP Hilary Benn has called on his party to come out “loud and clear” in support of a second referendum, describing Brexit as a “complete and utter mess”.

Speaking during a People’s Vote rally at New Dock Hall in Leeds on Saturday, he said: “We know, to use the technical term, that Brexit is a complete and utter mess.

“I have never spoken on a People’s Vote platform before, but I too have come to the conclusion that the only way out of this mess is now to give the people a final say.

Protester Sian Carr
Protester Sian Carr after attending the rally at New Dock Hall in Leeds (Danny Lawson/PA)

“So let’s say it clearly, let the party that I joined at 17 years of age say it loud and clear – we want a People’s Vote.”

Sunday marks three years to the day since the UK voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

The MP for Leeds Central told the audience, which organisers estimated as being more than 1,000 strong, that Leave voters were fed false promises.

Describing their campaign as a “fantasy”, he said: “Our message is very simply this, what was promised in 2016 by the Leave campaign does not exist.

“You cannot have all of our sovereignty and all of the economic benefits. There are choices that we have to make.

“It wasn’t true, it isn’t true. Brexit will make us poorer, Brexit will make the North poorer. Who voted for that?”

He was speaking in the first of a series of Let Us Be Heard demonstrations run by the People’s Vote campaign in a bid to drum up support for the public getting a final say on Brexit.

Wow!

That was incredible.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in Leeds today for the launch of the #LetUsBeHeard campaign.

We hope you get home safe pic.twitter.com/KwTQaKRwEx

— People's Vote UK (@peoplesvote_uk) June 22, 2019

The campaign’s website says it plans to run more rallies in 15 towns and cities across the country, culminating with a march in London on October 12.

Also speaking at the event on Saturday were former England football players John Barnes and Peter Reid, and it was hosted by retired athlete Steve Cram.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP for Wakefield, told the audience that she has called in private for her party to show “full-throated support” for a final vote being given to the people, adding: “We must campaign to remain.”

Speaking about reports that Conservative leadership candidate Boris Johnson had an angry argument at his home on Friday morning, she said: “We’ve heard some pretty troubling allegations today about Boris Johnson, and there are some pretty big questions about the character of the man who wants to be this country’s next prime minister and lead us through the biggest crisis in our post-war history.

“This is the day the Boris bubble burst.”

Meanwhile, Alastair Campbell, former spokesman for ex-prime minister Tony Blair, and who was recently expelled from the Labour party, told the crowd that there is “no mandate” for a no-deal Brexit.

Explaining how the event marked the launch of People’s Vote North, he said: “It is time to revoke the long-held media myth that the North is this mass of angry, decrepit Brexiteers.”

Mr Campbell went on to interview a group of sportspeople during the event, with former Liverpool player Mr Barnes describing how the country stands “on the edge of a cliff”, and needs to respond quickly in order to push through a second vote on Brexit.

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