Jeremy Corbyn sparked fresh speculation about backing for a fresh Brexit referendum today.
The Labour leader pointedy avoided ruling out support for another national vote when the shape of a proposed deal with the EU becomes clear.
Close ally Emily Thornberry also suggested the party would shift its position if public opinion turned dramatically against leaving the bloc.
Remainers from across parties last week seized on remarks by Nigel Farage seemingly endorsing the prospect of another referendum.
Appearing on ITV’s Peston programme today, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pointedy avoided ruling out support for another national vote when the shape of a proposed deal with the EU becomes clear
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage last week raised the prospect of another Brexit referendum to ‘kill off’ the issue once and for all (pictured)
The former UKIP leader said he thought the new ballot might be needed to ‘kill off’ the issue once and for all.
Amid a wave of condemnation from Brexiteers, Mr Farage later tried to backtrack by insisting he had merely been voicing concerns that relentless opposition from Europhiles in parliament could end up torpedoing the UK’s departure.
Theresa May has flatly reject the idea of a second national vote warning that it would only throw the process into chaos.
Polls suggest that there is little appetite among the public for another referendum.
However, the episode has increased the pressure on Mr Corbyn and the Labour leadership to soft their stance further.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme, Mr Corbyn made clear he was not yet calling for a new national poll on withdrawal – but said he was not implacably opposed to one either.
The Labour leader told ITV’s Peston On Sunday: ‘We are not supporting or calling for a second referendum. What we have called for is a meaningful vote in Parliament.’
When it was put to Mr Corbyn that he was not saying he would never support another referendum, the Labour leader said: ‘We are not calling for one either’.
Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show about a second referendum, Ms Thornberry said: ‘If 90 per cent of the population was now saying we must stay in the European Union and we must not leave then that would be a challenge that would be there for all of us who are democrats.
‘But, at the moment, and as things currently stand, we proceed in good faith, we do as we are instructed and we are leaving the European Union.
‘We have said that we must respect the result of the referendum which means that we have to leave, but we have to look after the economy which, in my view, means that we don’t go very far.’
Deputy Tory party chairman James Cleverly said the comments showed that Labour was trying to frustrate Brexit.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Emily Thornberry suggested Labour would shift its position if public opinion turned dramatically against leaving the bloc
He said: ‘Once again the very top of Labour, this time Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, have failed to rule out a second referendum.
‘Every step of the way Labour are trying to frustrate the Brexit process rather than make a success of it.
‘Labour just can’t be trusted to deliver on leaving the European Union.’
While appearing to soften his position on the referendum, Mr Corbyn also slapped down critics calling for the UK to stay in the single market if Brexit does happen.
The Labour leader said: ‘The single market is dependent on membership of the European Union.’
The comments came after some Labour figures called for the party to change tack and campaign to remain in the single market and customs union after withdrawal.
Mr Corbyn expressed concern about some parts of the single market set-up.
‘There are also aspects of the single market one wants to think about such as the restrictions on state aid to industry, which is something that I would wish to challenge.’
Mr Corbyn said Labour would vote against landmark Brexit legislation which returns to the Commons in the next few days unless its demands were met in areas such as workers rights.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna told Sky’s Sunday with Niall Paterson: ‘In terms of the notion that you have to be in the European Union to be part of the EU single market, that is not correct.
‘Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland fully participate in the single market, but they are not members of the European Union, and there’s no reason why the UK, if we leave, should not have that kind of relationship.’
The former shadow business secretary said the Government had a duty to try to deliver Brexit on the terms it was sold to the British people.
He added: ‘If that proves to be impossible then of course we should have an open mind about what happens at the end of the process.
‘I’m not opposed in principle at all to us having a new poll on this, on the final deal.’
Theresa May (pictured at church in her Maidenhead constituency with husband Philip today) has flatly dismissed the idea of another Brexit referendum