Labour 'Moving Towards' Backing A Second Referendum, Says John McDonnell

Shadow chancellor offers ray of hope for anti-Brexit campaigners.

John McDonnell has said Labour is “moving towards” backing a second referendum and said a backbench plan to secure one “could be a solution”.

The shadow chancellor’s comments will be a boost to campaigners still hoping Brexit can be stopped with just 35-days to go until exit day.

Labour MP Peter Kyle is hoping to get support for his amendment that would see MPs back Theresa May’s deal on the condition the public then be given the final say.

Gavin Shuker, one of the ex-Labour MPs who defected to The Independent Group this week, told HuffPost UK the defectors could prop up May’s government if she backed the plan.

According to The Guardian, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has been pushing Labour to back Kyle’s proposal.

And The Times reports Jeremy Corbyn has been warned “dozens” of Labour MPs are prepared to quit the party if he does not throw his weight behind it.

The amendment would be voted on when the PM finally decides to give MPs another meaningful vote on her deal.

MPs will be given a chance to vote on Brexit on Wednesday – if not the final say on whether to accept the deal or not.

May has been warned she could face a mass revolt of Conservative MPs if the country appears on course for a no-deal Brexit.

The leaders of a 100-strong group of Tory MPs have told the prime minister they are prepared to vote in favour of another backbench move next week that would take no-deal off the table.

It is also reported that some ministers are prepared to risk their jobs in government by voting to block no-deal.

Corbyn has appeared reluctant to back a second Brexit referendum. But in an interview in the Evening Standard today, McDonnell said “we’re moving towards [a fresh vote]”.

“My constituency voted Leave. I was shocked. But I’ve said all along if there was another, I’d campaign for Remain,” he said.

Ahead of the looming Commons votes, Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay and attorney general Geoffrey Cox announced they will hold talks again with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in the coming days on the Northern Ireland backstop.

May will also travel to an EU-Arab summit in Egypt this Sunday, an event that could give her the chance of face-to-face talks with key national leaders – although government sources were keen to dampen talk of a “deal in the desert”.

The PM is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with European Council president Donald Tusk on Sunday as both leaders attend the summit.

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