Labour’s Watson: We will back Second Referendum
The Prime Minister has replied to Jeremy Corbyn’s open letter last week outlining his five-point plan to delivering Brexit, including membership in a UK-wide customs union with the EU and a close relationship with the EU single market.
In her reply, May said she was “glad” the Leader of the Opposition and her “agree that the UK should leave the European Union”, referring to the “urgent task at hand” to find a deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, can command support in Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU”. She urged Corbyn not to pursue a second referendum or a general election, though Corbyn didn’t mention a second referendum in his original letter.
May questioned Corbyn’s customs union pledge: “I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future EU trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?” She said aiming for frictionless trade was “one of our key negotiating objectives”, and claimed her existing Brexit deal “explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union – no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors and no checks on rules of origin”, noting completely frictionless trade is limited to the single market, which she says “Labour’s 2017 General Election manifesto made clear [Corbyn] does not support.”
Labour deputy leader’s conditions to back second referendum
Whilst Labour has yet to officially respond, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson outlined the party’s conditions to back a second referendum. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Watson said his party’s policy had been very clear, and that he feels Labour is “at a point to have meaningful talks to get a deal with the major parties’ leaders” and if “the impasse” can’t be resolved, Labour would pursue a “public vote”. This contradicts Jeremy Corbyn’s claim a few days ago that a second refendum was not the next option if Theresa May rejected her plan.
Watson pushed a jibe at supporters of Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, using the party’s 2018 conference as an example where Labour’s positon wasn’t clear, mocking “I could repeat the mantra said”. In his speech at the Labour national conference, Starmer pushed for a second referendum, gathering a large applause in the room of over a hundred Labour delegates.
In a Times interview, Starmer, revealed that Labour will try to stop a no-deal exit with an amendment that will compel the prime minister to hold another “meaningful vote” before February 26.
“We have got to put a hard stop into this running down the clock… And that’s what we want to do this week.”