UK

BBC Question Time: Labour's Ian Lavery Says Party Is 'Committed To Will Of The British People' On Brexit

Audience applaud as Labour is accused of changing stance 'week by week'.

29/09/2017 08:00 BST | Updated 29/09/2017 11:32 BST

Labour “is committed to the will of the British people” and would not back a second Brexit referendum, its chairman has said in a heated exchange over the party’s stance.

MP Ian Lavery said the party was “crystal clear” on the issue, to hollow laughter from some in the audience on BBC Question Time.

The party has faced criticism for an ambigious stance on Brexit. It recently said it wanted a transition deal for Britain in which it remained in the Customs Union and Single Market after leaving the EU, leading to some to suggest it wanted this arrangement to be permanent.

Lavery told Question Time this should be as “short as possible but as long as necessary”.

BBC Question Time
Ian Lavery insisted Labour was 'crystal clear' on Brexit

This didn’t impress Richard Tice, a property developer from Brexit pressure group Leave Means Leave, who said: “Let’s be honest. Everybody knows your position is changing week by week.”

As the audience applauded, Tice said: “Now you’ve got the cheek - increasing numbers of people at the Labour conference this week are talking about a second referendum.”

Tice said he feared Britain would face a second referendum, “which is a shocking thing”. But Lavery hit back.

“When someone is pedalling myths, it needs to be responded to,” he said, raising his voice.

“The Labour Party are committed to the will of the people. We will be leaving the EU. No problem. No second referendum. No second referendum. ” 

As Tice goaded him and asked the audience “has everybody heard that?”, Lavery said: “As people like yourself continually perpetuate these myths. It’s just not helpful for anybody.”

Journalist and fellow panellist Peter Hitchens said: “The Labour Party on this is just like Groucho Marx: ’These are my principals and, if you don’t like them, I’ve got other ones.”

Lavery, Tice and Hitchens appeared on the show, which came from Wolverhampton, alongside Conservative minister Karen Bradley and comedian and former Labour advisor Ayesha Hazarika.