Corbyn’s Brexit policy likely to be challenged at Labour conference
More than 150 constituency Labour parties (CLPs) have been considering mounting a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy at conference this autumn, with an apparent rise in support for a referendum on a final deal among some of his key allies.
A handful of the local parties, some of them in leave-voting constituencies, have already agreed to adopt a motion for a public vote on Theresa May’s deal with an option to remain in the European Union. Others were expected to decide in the coming weeks.
Support for a fresh vote has also been quietly growing in Momentum, the Corbyn-supporting grassroots group which played a crucial role in preventing activists at last year’s conference from getting a vote on the party’s Brexit stance.
Meanwhile, there has been increasing pressure from within the unions, including Unite, to join the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) – whose leader, Manuel Cortes, firmly backs Corbyn – in giving the public a final say.
Some of the Labour leader’s closest political allies, including John McDonnell, were understood to have advised him to leave the prospect of a second referendum “on the table”, although they have said they would prefer a general election.
Senior Labour insiders have expressed concern about the scale of feeling among the party grassroots, and in particular young Labour voters, on the leadership’s opposition to a second referendum on an eventual Brexit deal.
However, Corbyn has repeatedly said that it was not currently Labour policy to back a fresh vote. He said earlier this month: “It’s not our policy to have a second referendum, it’s our policy to respect the result of the referendum.” But when asked to rule it out in all circumstances he has been more equivocal.