Corbyn must commit to second referendum 'now', says Labour's Brexit spokeswoman

'I think it should be now - we need to take the bull by the horns', says Jenny Chapman - piling fresh pressure on Labour leader

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 05 June 2019 13:12
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Jenny Chapman says Jeremy Corbyn must commit to referendum 'now'

Labour’s Brexit spokeswoman has told Jeremy Corbyn he must come off the fence and commit to a fresh referendum “now”.

Jenny Chapman - a long-time opponent of another public vote – said she was now convinced there was no alternative way to “resolve” the crisis.

Asked if the Labour leader should make the announcement “now”, Ms Chapman replied: “I think so - I think it should be now.”

“We need to take the bull by the horns, we need to explain to people why that is the right decision to take.”

The intervention comes as Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, attempts to build a party coalition to force Mr Corbyn to change course, following its European elections disaster.

However, last week, he held firm, insisting the issue of a referendum was still “some way off” – continuing to insist an acceptable Brexit deal could still be negotiated.

Supporters of a Final Say referendum are desperate for Labour to guarantee its backing in all circumstances, rather than simply to block a no-deal Brexit in October.

They fear voters will continue to desert the party over the summer, following the startling revival of the Liberal Democrats.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Chapman said had long resisted the growing pressure to commit unequivocally to a second referendum, but had now changed her mind.

“It’s very difficult and I don’t pretend this is popular with everybody, I’m not kidding myself about this – but I do think now is the moment.”

The Brexit spokeswoman said the country was currently “diverted” by the Tory leadership race”, which was “very entertaining”.

But she warned: “The underlying thing remains – we have to resolve this by the end of October. There are still people who believe there is another way through this – I don’t see it.

“Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour party and he makes the final call of course.”

Asked if she wanted her leader to “come round”, Ms Chapman replied: “I would say that.”

The comments came as the Labour-run Welsh Government officially shifted its position, in order to campaign to remain in the EU.

Jeremy Miles, the Brexit minister, told the Senedd in Cardiff there was no prospect for its previous proposals for leaving with a deal that involved staying in the single market and customs union.

“We sought to reconcile the result of the 2016 referendum with the least damaging kind of Brexit but that effort has now reached the end of the road,” Mr Miles said.

“Faced by this sort of binary choice, we as a government must recognise these realities and change course.”

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