Labour have put out a statement saying that Jeremy Corbyn will formally back a second referendum tonight. Corbyn will tell the PLP meeting tonight that Labour “will back the Cooper-Letwin amendment to take ‘No Deal’ off the table and announce that Labour will also put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit”. Corbyn must be delighted by the prospect of going back to an “evil empire”…
According to the Labour statement, Corbyn will table his own amendment seeking to “enshrine Labour’s five Brexit demands in law” – the soft Brexit plan Corbyn proposed to May three weeks ago – as well as supporting the Cooper-Letwin amendment enabling a Parliamentary putsch to delay Article 50.
The wording on a second referendum still gives Corbyn some wriggle room – it doesn’t commit him to supporting any specific amendment or proposal. Corbyn may yet be making the calculation that a vague commitment to a second referendum is enough to prevent more Europhile Labour MPs from jumping ship for the time being, while gambling that enough of his own MPs will rebel or a softer Brexit deal will be forced through the Commons before he actually has to come good on his commitment. Nonetheless it is still a huge political shift that will have seismic consequences…
Corbyn will tell the PLP:
“The Prime Minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous No Deal. We cannot and will not accept.
“Last week, after our visit to talk to EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid, no one can be in any doubt Labour’s alternative Brexit plan is serious and credible. We are convinced our alternative, which puts jobs and living standards first, could command support in the House of Commons, bring people who voted Leave and Remain together, and be negotiated with the EU.
“That’s why we will be putting down an amendment in parliament this week setting out Labour’s plan: for a comprehensive customs union with a UK say; close alignment with the single market; guarantees on rights and standards; protection for Britain’s role in EU agencies; and a security agreement which guarantees access to the European arrest warrant and vital shared databases. And we will be calling for legislation to underpin this mandate.
“We will also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a No Deal outcome. One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent No Deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal.
“That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.”