Sadiq Khan suggests Labour may back second referendum on Brexit

Mayor raises prospect of Labour’s next manifesto offering voters the chance to reverse the Brexit referendum verdict 

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 26 September 2017 12:59
Sadiq Khan hints Labour may back second EU referendum

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested Labour may back a second referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Mr Khan hinted he would press for a commitment to a further national vote – on whether to accept any Brexit deal reached – to be included in the next election manifesto.

The vow came as Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s former leader in Scotland, said the public had the right to have its say in a second referendum.

Meanwhile, Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s election chief, and a Corbyn ally, refused to rule out a further vote, saying: “Who knows where we will be at the end of this process?”

At Labour’s conference, there were also claims that John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, had left open the prospect of a further referendum, at a private meeting with business leaders.

Mr Corbyn has tried to keep a lid on Labour’s Brexit divisions, sparking fury when Labour MPs were denied a vote on permanent membership of the single market.

But Mr Khan said it was “possible” Labour’s next manifesto would offer voters the chance to reverse the Brexit referendum verdict.

“I’d have my tuppence worth as Mayor of London,” he told the London Evening Standard, making clear he feared no Brexit deal would be struck that would be good enough to accept without offering a second referendum.

“I so far have not been persuaded how this Government has a plan that works for our country,” Mr Khan added.

A previous version of this story stated Mr Khan had explicitly called for a second referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, but the Mayor’s team has insisted this was not the case.

Sadiq Khan calls for Theresa May to stand up for EU migrants during Brexit

Meanwhile, Ms Dugdale said: “Brexit is spiralling out of control and out of the interests of working people.

“That’s why we the people should take back control with a final vote on the deal,” she told Glasgow’s Daily Record newspaper.

On Sunday, Mr Gwynne warned his party that Brexit divisions could tear Labour apart, as he urged activists and MPs to settle their disagreements in a “comradely fashion”.

Over the summer, Labour negotiated a united policy to stay in the single market for a transitional period of between two and four years, but with no mention of a second referendum.

Today, Mr Gwynne said there would have to be a “very serious discussion” about a referendum if the Prime Minister failed to achieve an acceptable deal in the Brussels talks.

“Certainly Parliament, at the very least, wants to have that final say over what deal Theresa May comes back with,” Mr Gwynne added.

Before the June election, Mr Corbyn appeared to flirt with offering a referendum on the Brexit deal, before eventually stepping back. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens say they would offer one.

But, on Monday, a survey revealed a narrow majority of Labour voters now supports a further referendum, with an option for Britain stay in the EU.

One person who attended Mr McDonnell’s meeting with business leaders said they had left the event with the impression that another vote was a possibility.

However, a source close to the Shadow Chancellor told the Evening Standard he had not given any backing to the idea of a second referendum.

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