The option for a referendum on Theresa May’s final Brexit deal “must be left on the table”, the general secretary of the Unite trade Union, Len McCluskey, has said.
He added that the focus should be on triggering an early general election to see Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn elected prime minister.
Corbyn has not ruled out supporting a public vote – but has said that is not currently Labour policy.
Speaking at the TUC conference in Manchester on Monday, McCluskey said the “vote we will need above all is a general election that can deliver a Labour government”.
“I understand the argument for a so-called ‘people’s vote’ on the deal, on the deal – not on leaving the EU. That people’s vote has already happened,” he said.
“And I accept that option must be left on the table, if for no other reason than as a safety net if Tory MPs become spineless and don’t have the courage of their own convictions to oppose what the prime minister brings back.
“But let’s focus on the prize – sweeping this government away in a general election and giving a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn the chance to repair two wasted years of Tory wrangling.”
Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, added to pressure on Corbyn to back another referendum after she said the trade union movement would “throw its weight behind” one if May fails to secure a good Brexit deal.
Last week the GMB union also said it was formally lending its support to another referendum.