Labour Will Back Amendment For Second Referendum, Says Keir Starmer

Shadow Brexit secretary says Boris Johnson's deal "has got to go to a referendum up against Remain".

Labour will back an amendment next week calling for a referendum on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, Keir Starmer has confirmed.

The shadow Brexit secretary told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the agreement struck between the prime minister and the EU “has got to go to a referendum up against Remain”.

Starmer left open the possibility Labour could back Johnson’s deal if a new poll was attached to it.

The withdrawal bill, the legislation which implements the exit agreement, is expected to be tabled in the next few days.

Starmer said he expected a backbench MP to try and amend it to add on the requirement for a public vote. Asked if Labour would back it, he said: “Yes”.

”Whatever deal gets through, it should be subject to a referendum,” he added.

“We have already voted, I think, three times as a party for a second referendum with a three-line whip behind it.

“What we are trying to achieve is, this deal in particular but any deal, is put up against remain in a referendum.

“The position we have adopted is whatever the outcome, whether it’s Boris Johnson’s bad deal or a better one which could be secured, it has got to go to a referendum up against remain.”

Starmer added Labour would be open to talking to the DUP following their opposition to Johnson’s deal.

“I would openly invite the DUP to talk to us,” he said. “If you want to work with us to improve the situation we’re in, our door is open to that discussion.”

After suffering an embarrassing defeat in the Commons over his Brexit plans on Saturday, Johnson got a senior diplomat to send Brussels an unsigned photocopy of the call by MPs for Article 50 to be extended beyond October 31.

The PM added a cover note stressing his detachment from the move. In a second note to European Council president Donald Tusk, the Johnson said a Brexit extension would be “deeply corrosive”.

MPs voted yesterday to delay formal approval for the deal until the withdrawal bill has passed. The move ordered Johnson to ask for an extension, which is expected to be granted by EU leaders.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Marr this morning the government would be able to get its deal through parliament. “We seem to have the numbers in the House of Commons,” he said.

The government is expected to hold a meaningful vote on its deal as early as Monday.

Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of planning for a no-deal exit, told Sky News this morning he could guarantee that the UK would leave the EU by the end of this month. “We are going to leave by October 31st,” he said.

But he said the risk of a no-deal had increased as a result of parliament’s decision to force Johnson to ask for a a delay. “We cannot guarantee that the European Council will grant an extension,” he said.

He said the government would trigger Operation Yellowhammer - its contingency plan for coping with a no-deal exit.


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