Jeremy Corbyn’s unwillingness to back a second referendum could lead to a near-fatal split in the Labour Party, David Lammy has warned.
Calling for a so-called people’s vote to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament, the influential Labour backbencher accused Corbyn of “hedging” over a second referendum, saying he was “moving the goalpost”.
“Now is the time for leadership,” Lammy told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme. “There are a small group in our party who are so frustrated, who have so much grievance, the fear is they are going to go off and form another party.
“I personally reject that,” he continued. “But the danger is, just like 1983, a new party built around a relationship with Europe keeps the Labour Party out of power for a generation.”
Lammy’s comments come after Corbyn signalled he would be willing to table repeated no-confidence motions in the government, despite the fact May saw off a vote on Wednesday 325 to 306.
“There’s no point continuing with votes of no confidence,” the Tottenham MP told Ridge. “I think a general election is extremely unlikely because members of the DUP are not going to put Jeremy Corbyn, who has been a long-time friend of Sinn Fein, into Number 10.”
But speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Kier Starmer suggested the Labour leadership could be warming to a second EU referendum, saying the party was in the “third phase” of its policy.
“Theresa May knows the verdict on her red lines – she got that verdict loud and clear last Tuesday,” he said
“If she doesn’t budge from that, we are at a position where we are facing a possible no-deal and therefore a public vote – it was the whole reason we moved our conference policy onto a public vote was to deal with that situation.”
The pair’s comments came on the same day Downing Street hit out at reports that MPs were set to table amendments to enable backbenchers to take control of Commons business to frustrate May’s Brexit plans, including an attempt to block the option of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Calling the moves “extremely concerning”, a spokesperson for Number 10 said: “The British public voted to leave the European Union and it is vital that elected politicians deliver upon that verdict.
“Any attempt to remove the government’s power to meet the legal conditions of an orderly exit at this moment of historic significance is extremely concerning,” they continued.
“This news should serve as a reminder to those MPs who want to deliver Brexit that they need to vote for it – otherwise there is a danger that Parliament could stop Brexit.”