Labour faces a fresh split over its Brexit policy after a frontbencher took part in a rally calling for a second referendum - despite party policy being to call
Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan said it was “time to take the Brexit decision back to the people”.
She was rebuked by Jeremy Corbyn, who said he would prefer Labour MPs to be “concentrating solely” on defeating Theresa May’s Brexit plan on Tuesday.
He said he would be discussing the situation with Dr Allin-Khan. The issue of a second referendum is highly sensitive for Labour, which fears losing voters in Leave-supporting areas.
Labour’s official policy is to call for a general election and, if that does not happen, to then keep all options open, including the possibility of a second referendum.
Tooting MP Allin-Khan joined a cross-party line-up at the rally, organised by People’s Vote and Best for Britain.
She said: “The promises made in 2016 are so far removed from the reality of the 585-page Withdrawal Agreement that it’s time to take the Brexit decision back to the people.”
But she was careful to say that the vote should only take place if there was not a general election.
“When this deal is voted down by Parliament, I want us to call for a general election the very next day and if that is rejected then we need a people’s vote.”
She added: “Do not let them tell you it is betraying the will of the people because the biggest betrayal is that of our children, our hospital patients, our much-valued NHS workforce.
“We have had two general elections in the last three years and nobody is telling us that they were undemocratic.”
In an interview with ITV, Corbyn said: “She’s entitled to her point of view. I would rather she and every other Labour MP spent today and tomorrow and Tuesday concentrating solely on making sure we defeat this deal and I would urge everyone else in the Labour Party to do that.”
Asked if she could remain on the frontbench he replied: “I’ll have a discussion with her.”
Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said: “I think if people feel that a privileged political elite has decided by subterfuge to find a way of reversing the previous referendum, that would cause us some difficulty and rightly so.”
He told Sky News that for a referendum to take place “we need to show to the country that we’ve been through the various different options and if at some point a referendum becomes absolutely necessary, it’s at that point that it takes place”.
Trickett said organising and passing legislation for a vote might take until May or June next year – after the UK’s intended departure from the EU on March 29, 2019.