Labour leadership contender Owen Smith today said it would be “tempting” not to take the UK out of the EU if he became Prime Minister.
The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said Labour “believes in being in the EU” as he set out his stall for ousting Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.
Smith also again floated the idea of a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, once the terms of the Brexit deal were known – a view he put forward in a blog for HuffPost UK.
Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Smith was asked if he would trigger Article 50 if he was in Downing Street and the formal process for Brexit had not been started.
He said: “I think that would be very tempting for the Labour Party as we are a party that believes in being in the EU.
“I don’t think it’s a binary choice because the reality is we don’t know what those terms are going to look like. Now if it’s next month I think it will be very difficult for the Labour Party.
“We need to come to some idea of what we’re actually getting.”
Smith added: “We need to negotiate right now, I don’t think we should accept that we’re on a definite path out.
“I think we need to make sure people are satisfied with that.
“We trusted people rightly to take the decision, we can trust them again in 18 months time to check whether it’s absolutely what they wanted.”
Smith said people voting in last month’s referendum took part in “good faith” but added: “I don’t think many people in this country knew precisely what the outturn was going to be.
“We’ve now got a period over the next 18 months to look at it, determine if it’s whether what we want and ask the British people again.”
Seeking a reversal of the EU referendum result could appeal to the 48% of voters who backed Remain, but with many of the strongest Leave areas coming in Labour heartlands such a move could fuel growing support for Ukip in those areas.
Steven Woolfe, the Ukip MEP who is seeking to succeed Nigel Farage as party leader, vowed on Thursday to “ruthlessly pursue” Labour votes in the north and the Midlands if he took charge.