Talk is rife that a second referendum is now inevitable with Brexit campaigner Richard Tice revealing on Friday his team is “preparing” for one. Labour has consistently rejected Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement calling it a “botched” deal which “works for nobody”. But known Eurosceptic Jeremy Corbyn had been reticent on another people’s vote until yesterday despite his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, backing one. Mr McDonnell said this week if Labour cannot force a general election – their preferred option – then a second referendum was “inevitable”.
He said: ”I think people will recognise we would have no other option but to consider another public vote.
“People respect us for doing our best to implement the spirit of the referendum result.”
Mr Corbyn, writing for the Guardian, said on Friday “all options should be on the table” if the Prime Minister’s deal fails on Tuesday.
Will Labour force through a second referendum and STOP Brexit?
Labour “is stuck between some kind of soft Brexit option or remain” without an agreed plan in place either way, one western politics expert believes.
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Dr Adrian Pabst, Head of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, told Express.co.uk: “They want to vote down Tuesday’s deal to try to force a vote of no confidence in the hope the government will fall and there will be an early election.
“But if they can’t get that, the questions is what happens.
“They don’t want a no-deal scenario but there are only two options at that point and one is a second referendum and the other one would some kind of other deal, a Norwegian-style deal.
“Neither seems to command a majority in the House of Commons, so the big question will be at what point will the Labour leadership and All-Party Parliamentary Groups settle on one choice and try to get a majority in the Commons for that?”
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Mr Pabst said Labour are failing to unite under one ideal, suggesting a “deep split” as with the Tories.
After Len McCluskey lambasted Labour’s support of a fresh Brexit referendum, Mr McDonnell hit back while Jeremy Corbyn said nothing.
But Mr Corbyn’s persuasion could be swayed towards a referendum if there is chance of ousting the Tories from power, according to Mr Pabst.
The politics lecturer said: “Where things could change is if he can sense he can deal a fatal blow to the Conservatives.
“In other words, the first priority will be ‘we want the Tories to be divided and to fall so we can gain power and everything will be subordinate to essentially defeating the Tories, whenever that is, and getting into power.
“So if it takes switching to Remain for Jeremy Corbyn to have any chance of being Prime Minister he probably would do that.”
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What about negotiating a second deal?
Labour does not want a ‘no deal’. Instead, as Mr Corbyn has indicated to the Guardian, Labour would aim to negotiate a second deal with a “new, comprehensive customs union with the EU” and a separate single market agreement with set “migration policies”.
But Mr Pabst said the party was naive in “wanting to have their cake and eat it”.
He said: “They want all the benefits of the EU membership and they still want Brexit but it’s not clear how that can happen because the EU has made it perfectly clear they are not going to compromise on fundamental things.
You cannot have all the benefits of membership and all the disadvantages of leaving, but that is something Labour just hasn’t worked out.”
A spokeswoman for the Labour Party said: “Labour has been consistently clear that if Parliament votes to reject Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal, a general election should be called to let the country decide on the way ahead and the best team to lead the Brexit negotiations.
“As agreed unanimously by Labour Party conference, if a general election is not possible, we will keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”