19 Jun, 2019
Although Jeremy Corbyn has historically been skeptical of the EU, he is now backing calls for a second referendum on Brexit, with some in his party pushing the idea that a new vote will be the only way to break the deadlock.
Corbyn has faced criticism for attempting to appease both sides of the aisle as the Brexit process continues to drag on nearly three years since voters narrowly approved the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU in 2016. On Wednesday, however, the Labour Party leader made perhaps his clearest statement on the matter to date at a shadow cabinet meeting:
“[I]t is now right to demand that any [Brexit] deal is put to a public vote. That is in line with our conference policy which agreed a public vote would be an option.”
The statement essentially confirms a shift in the Labour Party’s position toward a staunch ‘remain’ platform, as a new vote would be a huge blow to victorious leave voters. Corbyn did add, however, that he wanted to hear more from other party members and trade union representatives before officially announcing the new policy next week.
The decision to take a more firm stance was likely motivated by the party’s poor performance in the European parliamentary elections last month.
Although many people in the party support the idea of calling for a second referendum, more than 25 Labour MPs have written to Corbyn asking him not to take a ‘full remain’ position, warning that it could strengthen the party’s opponents and would be seen as a “toxic” maneuver. The argument leaves Corbyn stuck in a pinch, with one side seeing taking a stance against Brexit now as too little too late, and the other seeing it as a hard-line gesture that could break the party’s base of support among ‘leave’ voters.
— iain watson (@iainjwatson) June 19, 2019
The debate over Brexit has intensified since Theresa May resigned as prime minister in May having failed to pass her middle-of-the-road deal multiple times. Conservative pro-Brexit MP Boris Johnson is all but certain to take over the position, in part due to promises he will deliver Brexit “with or without a deal” with Brussels.