Labour will back a second Brexit referendum and campaign for Remain if there is one, Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed today.
In a letter to party members the opposition leader said that the party would demand a new public vote on a Tory Brexit plan or a No Deal departure.
It comes after trade unions affiliated to the party yesterday moved behind a second vote.
Mr Corbyn wrote: ‘Whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote.
‘In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs.’
Mr Corbyn wrote: ‘Whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote
Labour MPs led by deputy leader Tom Watson have been demanding Mr Corbyn move to supporting a second referendum for months as the party slumped to lows in opinion polls and the Lib Dems surged.
However, the letter does not address what Labour would do if it managed to take power in a general election and renegotiated its own deal with Brussels, which has been its long-term aim.
In the letter Mr Corbyn added: ‘Labour set out a compromise plan to try to bring the country together based around a customs union, a strong single market relationship and protection of environmental regulations and rights at work.
‘We continue to believe this is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together.
‘But the Prime Minister refused to compromise and was unable to deliver, so we ended cross-party talks.’
However, the path to a second referendum seems blocked, with both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, the Tory candidates to replace Theresa May, ruling one out.
Last night the party’s union paymasters swung behind a new vote, but left enough wiggle room for the party to still back Brexit.
Leaders of organisations affiliated to the party agreed a set process to follow depending on whether the opposition is able to take power in a general election.
They decided that if Theresa May’s successor tries to take the UK out either without a deal, or with a Tory one, Labour should back a referendum with a choice between those options and Remaining – and back the latter.
This is the position adopted by Mr Corbyn today.
But if Labour wins an election – which some believe could take place in the autumn – the party should offer a referendum with a choice between that deal or Remain.
Trade union kingpins including Unite’s McCluskey – a close confidante of Jeremy Corbyn – decided that in that referendum, whether the party backs Leave or Remain should ‘depend on the deal negotiated’.
This raises the possibility that a Corbyn government could theoretically negotiate a new Brexit deal with Brussels and then campaign against it in a new referendum.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said the announcement meant Labour was ‘still a party of Brexit’.
‘Jeremy Corbyn can pretend all he likes that the Labour Party are finally moving towards backing the Liberal Democrat policy of a People’s Vote, but it is clear it is still his intention to negotiate a damaging Brexit deal if he gets the keys to Number 10,’ he said.
Campaigners backing Chris Williamson gathered outside Labour’s headquarters in London today ahead of a disciplinary hearing
Protesters gathered outside Labour headquarters in Westminster this morning where a party committee is considering whether left-winger Chris Williamson should be readmitted
The timing of the Brexit announcement will fuel accusations that it was designed to deflect from the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the party.
Protesters gathered outside Labour headquarters in Westminster this morning where a party committee is considering whether left-winger Chris Williamson should be readmitted.
The Derby North MPs was originally suspended in February after he complained the party was ‘too apologetic’ in the face of criticism of the way it dealt with the issue.
Last month a panel of the party’s national executive committee ruled the suspension should be lifted after issuing a formal warning, prompting a furious outcry from MPs and Jewish groups.
However the suspension was reimposed two days later after a threatened backbench and staff mutiny and one member of the panel, MP Keith Vaz, said he had been drafted in at the last minute and that he believed the decision should be reconsidered.
Labour general secretary Jennie Formby has since referred the case to the party’s disputes committee.
The meeting comes as the party is braced for a major BBC Panorama investigation into anti-Semitism in its ranks.
A number of former employees are reported to have torn up non-disclosure agreements to speak to the programme which is set to be broadcast on Wednesday.