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Labour amendment does not specifically endorse second EU referendum, Labour MP confirms

LABOUR’s amendment to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan does not specifically commit the party to a second referendum on European Union membership, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey confirmed today.

The carefully worded amendment tabled last night would ensure that Parliament has enough time to debate and vote on all options, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The amendment does not “in any way” mean that the party backs a second referendum, she added, but states that MPs should be given the option next week of backing a national vote as a last resort.

Ms Long-Bailey said Labour is instead “prioritising seeking a deal which provides many of the assurances we have sought from the PM.”

At a People’s Vote campaign press conference in Westminster, Labour MP David Lammy said he would support the party’s amendment as it would be a “step forward” towards another referendum.

“It is absolutely legitimate to work through the options — and the amendment sets out those options — before you arrive at the place on a People’s Vote,” he said.

The amendment was tabled with the intention of breaking the Brexit deadlock and protecting Britain from a no-deal outcome.

It would instruct the government to rule out withdrawal from the EU without an agreement and to consider options such as an alternative Brexit deal that protects jobs, rights and living standards through a customs union and single market arrangement, and a public vote on a deal or proposal on Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has urged Downing Street to allow Tory MPs a free vote on cross-party motions aimed at preventing a no-deal withdrawal, warning that otherwise around 40 ministers could resign.

In a break from parliamentary convention, MPs will be able to amend the so-called “neutral motion” on Brexit tabled by Ms May after her deal with the EU was rejected in the Commons last week by a record historic 230-vote margin.

Voting due to take place on amendments chosen by Speaker John Bercow next Tuesday.

A European Commission spokesman said there was “nothing new” in what Ms May was proposing in her so-called Plan B for Brexit.

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