Final Say: Alastair Campbell says Labour should back new Brexit referendum to 'boost electoral standing'

The Independent's campaign for a Final Say referendum has been backed by more than 810,000 people

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 19 September 2018 20:55
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Chuka Umunna and John Rentoul debate the possibility of another Brexit referendum

Labour should throw its weight behind a public vote on the final Brexit deal if it wants to boost its electoral standing, Alastair Campbell has said.

The former Labour spin doctor called on Jeremy Corbyn to listen to the views of party members, who he claimed were overwhelmingly for a People’s Vote and anti-Brexit.

Brexit looks likely to dominate the party’s annual conference in Liverpool next week, as activists have submitted more than 150 motions on Britain’s exit from the European Union – including dozens asking for a general election or a public vote on the final deal.

It comes as The Independent’s campaign for a Final Say referendum on Theresa May’s Brexit deal secured more than 810,000 signatures.

Writing in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread for The Independent, Mr Campbell said: “I really think Labour should be leading on this.

“Jeremy Corbyn puts a lot of store on the views of members. Labour members are overwhelmingly for a People’s Vote and anti-Brexit.

“I think if Labour backed the People’s Vote, and led on it with real vigour and fight, it would be the biggest and best single thing they could do to improve their electoral standing.”

Mr Campbell said the Labour leader had a “pretty sceptical approach” to Brexit, but added: “He did campaign and vote for Remain, though I wish he had done more in the campaign.

“However, I think as the endgame for the Tory negotiation nears, surely the overwhelming view of Labour members must count for something.

“And also I think we have to do a better job of persuading him that this Brexit is a project of the right, for the right, by the right, and that the Brexit elite are doing it for themselves, not the people.”

Mr Campbell has teamed up with his former boss, Tony Blair, in his condemnation of the Brexit vote and demands for a fresh referendum.

Asked how hopeful he was about the prospect of a second vote, he said: “I go up from day to day (as much about my changeable moods as anything).

“But a few months ago, I would have said 1-2, now I am edging between 4-5, and I think if people keep fighting, keep making the case, keep exposing the lies and the mess and the fantasies of the Brextremists, we can get to 10 when we need to.”

Mr Corbyn has consistently refused to support a fresh Brexit referendum, but the party leadership has also left the door open to a change of approach.

On Tuesday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the party “respects the referendum result” but it would vote down Ms May’s deal if it did not meet its red lines.

He said: “We should have a general election because people can not only debate the range of issues in full, they can also select the team that will then negotiate our future position.

“If we can’t get a general election, we are keeping the option of another vote – a people’s vote – on the table.”

The People’s Vote and The Independent March for the Future, is on 20 October in London.

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