Labour may not campaign for Remain in a second Brexit referendum, Shami Chakrabarti has said.
In comments likely to anger the party’s strongly pro-EU membership, she told the BBC’s Today programme that a fresh vote would “be a reluctant means of breaking a deadlock”.
Asked if Labour would support Remain, she said: “That would be for the party to decide in a general election.”
The shadow attorney general said the party could instead ask voters to get behind a Labour Brexit deal.
The Jeremy Corbyn-ally also defended the party’s chair, Ian Lavery, who on Wednesday came out strongly against a second referendum, and added that the party had vowed to “honour the referendum” at the last election.
Chakrabarti said: “We didn’t win the election and we couldn’t get our deal or anything like it through parliament. Parliament is split. A general election or a public vote would now be the means of breaking the deadlock.
“As to whether we would take one line or another in a referendum that would depend on what the deal was.
“Was it going to be a Labour deal with the closest possible relationship with Europe or was it going to be a deal that we thought was going to be less than satisfactory.”
Her comments came as chancellor Philip Hammond appeared to move toward supporting a second referendum.
He told the BBC his “strong preference” was for MPs to resolve the impasse by backing a deal.
But he said: “I very much hope we will find a way of resolving this issue in parliament. The democratic reality is that people decided in the EU referendum to leave the European Union, and they left it to parliament to work out how to do that, and it would be a stain on parliament’s reputation if, at the end, we have to admit we have been unable to agree how to discharge that mandate.”
He added: “If we do get to the point where parliament does admit that it cannot resolve the situation then it will have to be remitted back to the people.”
Hammond continued: “We need a period of calm now before contemplating the possibility of a general election.”
Outgoing prime minister Theresa May had ruled out the idea of a second referendum numerous times.