Labour’s Brexit crisis has deepened after Diane Abbott became the latest member of the shadow cabinet to back Remain over any deal negotiated by her own party.
The shadow home secretary said today she will be ‘personally campaigning for Remain’ regardless of whether Labour commits to staying in the EU or not.
She is the third Labour frontbencher to promise to back Remain against any Brexit deal the party agrees on.
Ms Abbott said she would campaign for Remain in a second EU referendum, insisting it is the ‘best option for the country and for my constituents’.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘We are, of course… the party’s committed to a referendum now and Jeremy’s (Corbyn) made that clear, and if there is a referendum and if Remain is on the ballot paper, and there’s every expectation it will be, I – like John McDonnell – personally will be campaigning for Remain.’
Denying any party split, she claimed leader Jeremy Corbyn has ‘successfully sought to keep both sides of the party together’.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott (pictured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme) said today she will be ‘personally campaigning for Remain’ regardless of whether Labour commits to staying in the EU or not
She added: ‘The party and the shadow cabinet will have to debate this and arrive at a position. Whatever the position is, Jeremy will follow what the party says.’
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry have also vowed to back Remain – even against Corbyn’s ruling.
Ms Thornberry has said Labour would be ‘off our bloody rockers’ not to back Remain.
Labour’s current Brexit policy is to hold a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper – but it falls short of trying to stay in the EU no matter what.
Mr Corbyn has demanded the Government publish its No Deal contingency plans after a leaked dossier revealed months of economic downturn, border chaos and product shortages.
Ms Abbott backed her leader and continued to deny Labour’s position is confused, turning instead on Boris Johnson’s No Deal plans for October 31.
She said ending freedom of movement on the Halloween deadline would make the Windrush scandal ‘look like a minor blip’.
She told the programme: ‘I think it’s going to create chaos, it’s going to be very problematic for business, but it’s going to be very difficult for EU nationals.
‘There are currently three million here altogether; a million have registered for settled status, there’s no possibility of two million registering between now and the 31 October, and then those EU nationals that were here but haven’t registered for settled status will be in the exact same position as the Windrush people.
‘There will be people that came here perfectly legally, but will not have the paperwork to prove that and will have all sorts of problems with employers and the NHS and so on.’
Labour’s current Brexit policy, under leader Jeremy Corbuyn (pictured today in Stevenage) is to hold a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper – but it falls short of trying to stay in the EU no matter what
She added: ‘The way Boris is doing it is heading to a catastrophe (which) will make Windrush look like a minor blip.’
Ms Abbott further slammed the Prime Minister’s approach, adding: ‘This is typical of everything that Boris (Johnson) is doing around Brexit.
‘He makes grand announcements without thinking through the practicalities and without thinking through what the effect will be on society and business.’
Number 10 said the system allowing EU citizens to freely live and work in the UK would ‘look different’, with changes including tougher checks to prevent foreign criminals entering the country.
But Ms Abbott said she did not see how criminality could be checked once access to EU databases was lost.
Ms Abbott is the third Labour frontbencher to promise to back Remain against any Brexit deal the party agrees on, after shadow chancellor John McDonnell (pictured) and Emily Thornberry
She told Today: ‘The truth is one of the problems about leaving the EU without a deal is we will lose access to all the EU databases that the police and the security services have relied on, and we will lose it on the stroke of the end of the day on October 31st.’
Ms Abbott called for more consultation and a ‘longer and more considered transitional process’.
She said Labour’s manifesto stated that when the UK left the single market freedom of movement falls, but added that there was a need for a ‘practical process’.
She added: ‘The process that Boris is suggesting is not a practical process and will cause harm to people, it will cause harm actually to British nationals in the EU.’
A Home Office spokesman said today: ‘EU citizens and their families still have until at least December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and one million people have already been granted status.
‘Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on October 31 when the UK leaves the EU, and after Brexit the Government will introduce a new, fairer immigration system that prioritises skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they come from.’
Ms Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, (pictured) has said Labour would be ‘off our bloody rockers’ not to back Remain