POLITICS
25/01/2019 13:47 GMT | Updated 25/01/2019 13:47 GMT

Labour Party Chair Slams Idea Of 'Divisive' Second Brexit Referendum

Ian Lavery warns public would vote Leave again.

Labour MPs hoping Jeremy Corbyn will swing behind supporting a second referendum have been dealt a further blow after the party’s chairman savaged the idea.

Ian Lavery warned against running another “divisive campaign” that would only end with people voting for Brexit again.

“We should be in no doubt that asking voters to vote again on an issue to which they have already given an answer, until they come up with the right answer, risks serious damage to the relationship between many citizens and politicians at Westminster,” he said in a column for The Guardian.

“A radical, redistributive Labour government is the answer to the woes of our country and for our communities, not rerunning a divisive campaign that seems likely to deliver the same result again and do nothing to answer the demand of a country crying out for real change.”

Corbyn has appeared reluctant to back a second referendum and instead has made securing a general election his priority.

The Labour leader said “I do not want to re-run the 2016 referendum” when asked on Thursday about whether he would back a fresh public vote.

Yesterday campaigners pushing for a second referendum dropped plans to ask parliament to vote in favour of one.

MPs from the cross-party People’s Vote campaign said there was no chance of winning enough support without the backing of the Labour leader.

The Commons will vote on Tuesday on Theresa May’s next steps in the Brexit process, after her deal was roundly rejected in a historic defeat last week.

MPs are attempting to seize control of what happens next by tabling amendments to the prime minister’s latest proposal.

Tory MP Sarah Wollaston announced on Thursday that the People’s Vote campaign would not table an amendment calling for a second referendum.

“At this stage, and until we have the leader of the opposition’s backing, it would would not pass,” she said during a press conference in Westminster.

Labour MP Luciana Berger demanded Corbyn should “do the right thing” and stop “facilitating a job-destroying Brexit”.

“The clock is ticking. At this late stage I appeal to Jeremy Corbyn to do the right thing by the majority of our voters, supporters and members and back a People’s Vote. The time for action is now,” she said.

“At a time when Labour should be championing a People’s Vote, the leadership avoids answering that call.”

Pressure has mounted on the prime minister to rule out a no-deal Brexit after Amber Rudd hinted she could resign from the government to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement.

The work and pensions secretary, a prominent Remain supporter, said she was going to “wait and see” if May allows a free vote on the series of amendments.