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Labour could be ‘finished’ if it backs second EU referendum, party chairman warns

LABOUR chairman Ian Lavery warned today that the party could be “finished” if it backs a second referendum.

Mr Lavery reportedly told leader Jeremy Corbyn that Labour’s future was bleak if it failed to deliver on the result of the 2016 vote during a shadow cabinet meeting.

The Labour leader and the Prime Minister were engaged in a second round of talks today to seek a consensus position ahead of a crunch summit in Brussels on April 10.

After the government bottled the original Leave date of March 29 Britain is currently due to leave, with no withdrawal agreement, on April 12.

Mr Lavery’s intervention came after MPs wrote to the leader calling for and against a second referendum.

Arriving for talks in Whitehall, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer confirmed that a “confirmatory”  referendum was among the ideas on the table for discussion.

But 25 Labour MPs have written a joint letter to Mr Corbyn warning that a second public vote would “divide the country further and add uncertainty for business.”

They warned: “A second referendum would be exploited by the far right, damage the trust of many core Labour voters and reduce our chances of winning a general election.”

Signatories include veteran backbenchers Sir Kevin Barron, Dennis Skinner and Ronnie Campbell, former minister Caroline Flint and MPs representing Leave-voting areas of northern England and the Midlands, including Gloria De Piero, Sarah Champion and Gareth Snell.

Meanwhile, a group of 12 Labour MPs wrote to Mr Corbyn urging him to include a “public vote” in any deal he strikes with Ms May.

The letter was signed by Clive Lewis, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Kate Osamor, Alex Sobel, Marsha de Cordova, Anneliese Dodds, Rosie Duffield, Anna McMorrin, Luke Pollard, Rachael Maskell, Ged Killen and Ruth George. 

It came to light after shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said a second referendum would be merely a means of breaking a deadlock and not an end in itself.

The letter claims that a public vote on any option agreed by Parliament is the “only way” to guarantee that the Tories keep promises to protect rights, jobs and protections, as well as putting pressure on them to call a general election.

The MPs also say that Labour’s policy, agreed at its annual conference last September, is to oppose a Brexit agreement that does not meet the party’s six tests and put any deal that does to a public vote – though in fact policy stipulates a second referendum is only an option if a general election cannot be forced.

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