DEPUTY Labour leader Tom Watson and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, along with union leaders, are pushing for a second referendum in a move against party leader Jeremy Corbyn. They are calling for a lobby of Labour’s NEC today to force the executive to take up their position.
Watson urged party members to email Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee to call for a second referendum ballot pledge.
The general secretaries of Unison, the GMB and Usdaw are also calling on Labour leader Corbyn to back another EU referendum in Labour’s forthcoming European election manifesto.
The crunch meeting of the party’s ruling NEC takes place today.
Labour is split over the issue, and divisions widened over the Labour European election leaflets which failed to mention whether Labour is for or against a second referendum, they were then withdrawn and are due to be re-written.
This is to be raised at today’s NEC meeting, despite the fact that it could well split the NEC and split the party.
Unison leader Dave Prentis has joined forces with GMB leader Tim Roache and Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis in backing Watson and Starmer.
Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, said a referendum on any Brexit deal would be a change in Labour policy.
Gardiner said that the party’s policy, agreed at last year’s conference, is to go for a referendum ‘to stop a no-deal or a bad Tory Brexit.’
He added: ‘If we are being pushed into a no-deal by this government, we will have a second referendum. But we want to try, and that’s why we’re in there with the government now, trying to deliver on what people voted for.’
In fact, what is being pushed by the right wing of the Labour Party goes further than the decision which was made at the Party conference.
Watson and Starmer’s position is that any deal agreed by Parliament as a result of the current negotiations with the Tories must not only be agreed by Parliament but must then be agreed in a second referendum.
This is not what the Labour Party conference decided.
On Friday it emerged that more than 90 Labour MPs and MEPs had written to the NEC urging a ‘clear commitment’ to a public vote on any Brexit deal agreed.
However earlier this month, 25 Labour backbenchers wrote to Corbyn, urging him to rule out a seconbd referendum, arguing that it would ‘be exploited by the far right, damage the trust of many core Labour voters and reduce our chances of winning a general election.’
News Line contacted Unite regarding a statement from the union’s leader Len McCluskey but were unable to get a reply.