Hunt’s call for sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on EU deal

New prime min­is­ter must ne­go­ti­ate to stay in sin­gle mar­ket then put it to the peo­ple, says se­nior Tory

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Peter Do­miniczak, Matthew Hole­house and Peter Fos­ter

BRI­TAIN should hold a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on the terms of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union if it can se­cure a deal to con­trol its bor­ders, a Cabi­net min­is­ter says today.

Writ­ing in The Daily Tele­graph, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Sec­re­tary, be­comes the first min­is­ter to sug­gest Bri­tain could hold an­other vote on Brexit, de­spite the Leave vic­tory last week.

He says the new prime min­is­ter must be al­lowed to “ne­go­ti­ate a deal” with Brus­sels and “put it to the Bri­tish peo­ple” ei­ther by call­ing a gen­eral elec­tion or hav­ing an­other ref­er­en­dum.

Bri­tain must re­main in the sin­gle mar­ket and needs to reach a “sen­si­ble com­pro­mise” with the EU over free­dom of move­ment rules to al­low the UK to con­trol mi­gra­tion, he in­sists.

Mr Hunt says: “We must not in­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 straight away be­cause that puts a time limit of two years on ne­go­ti­a­tions, af­ter which we could be thrown out with no deal at all.

“So be­fore set­ting the clock tick­ing we need to ne­go­ti­ate a deal and put it to the Bri­tish peo­ple, ei­ther in a ref­er­en­dum or through the Con­ser­va­tive man­i­festo at a fresh gen­eral elec­tion.”

Poland yes­ter­day said that Bri­tain should have a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, in stark con­trast to other EU coun­tries’ calls for the UK to be­gin the process of leav­ing im­me­di­ately. The Czech Re- pub­lic called for Jean-Claude Juncker, the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, to step down over his fail­ure to keep Bri­tain in the EU. Pol­ish and Aus­trian politi­cians added their voices to the calls.

Today, David Cameron will at­tend a Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing in Brus­sels – the first time he will have seen Euro­pean lead­ers since the vote – amid signs of a grow­ing split in Europe over how to han­dle Brexit.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, Mr Cameron sug­gested a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum is pos­si­ble but that it will be a de­ci­sion for the next prime min­is­ter. He said there is a “very strong case” for re­main­ing in the sin­gle mar­ket, some­thing which EU lead­ers say is im­pos­si­ble with­out ac­cept­ing un­lim­ited num­bers of mi­grants from the Con­ti­nent.

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Cameron in­sist that the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum must be ac­cepted and that Bri­tain will leave. How­ever, their com­ments risk an­ger­ing Euroscep­tics who be­lieve that end­ing free­dom of move­ment rules is a “red line” and may ac­cuse them of ig­nor­ing the vote to Leave the EU.

He says: “The peo­ple have spo­ken – and Par­lia­ment must lis­ten. Bri­tain must and will leave the EU. But we did not vote on the terms of our de­par­ture.” He says the vote shows “the country has re­jected the free move­ment of peo­ple as it cur­rently op­er­ates”.

He adds: “So our plan must be to en­cour­age them to re­form those rules, thereby open­ing up a space for a ‘Nor­way-plus’ op­tion for us – full ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket with a sen­si­ble com­pro­mise on free-move­ment rules.

“As their big­gest non-EU trad­ing part­ner, it is in the Euro­pean in­ter­est to do this deal with them as much as it is in our in­ter­ests to se­cure it.” He says by

FOR A Leader of the Op­po­si­tion to lose 12 out of 30 mem­bers of the shadow cabi­net in a sin­gle day might seem as bad as it can get. Jeremy Cor­byn no doubt thought so when he went to bed on Sun­day night.

Mr Cor­byn was soon to dis­cover, though, that no mat­ter how bad things might be, they can al­ways get worse. By last night, at the end of an even more calami­tous day for the Labour leader, the num­ber of res­ig­na­tions trig­gered by his sack­ing of Hi­lary Benn had risen to a scarcely be­liev­able 44.

With two-thirds of his shadow cabi­net gone, he also had to en­dure his own MPs shout­ing at him to re­sign in the mid­dle of a Com­mons de­bate as sup­port for him col­lapsed.

Front­benchers quit faster than he could re­place them. He was a laugh­ing stock at the Dis­patch Box. His new shadow de­fence sec­re­tary had such lit­tle no­tice that he missed de­fence ques­tions. Cri­sis turned to farce. Day two of the self-de­struc­tion of the Labour Party had be­gun with a smoke­screen put up by Cor­byn ally Emily Thorn­berry, who started the day as shadow de­fence sec­re­tary. Ap­pear­ing on ITV’s Good Morn

ing Bri­tain at 7.20am, she did her level best to deflect at­ten­tion on to the par­al­lel cri­sis within the Con­ser­va­tive Party.

“We have got all the Brex­i­teers from the Tory party who are now just in­ter­ested in their own lead­er­ship cam­paign,” she said sternly.

It was a valiant ef­fort, but within half an hour the sound of Jeremy Cor­byn’s in-box ping­ing with res­ig­na­tions was back. Diana John­son, shadow for­eign min­is­ter, was first out of the blocks at 7.45am, fol­lowed two min­utes later by Anna Tur­ley, shadow min­is­ter for civil so­ci­ety, and two min­utes af­ter that by Toby Perkins, shadow armed forces min­is­ter.

Ms Tur­ley told Mr Cor­byn she had “many, many Labour-vot­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic tell me this week­end that they do not have con­fi­dence in your lead­er­ship … I’m afraid I share their view”, while Mr Perkins said the Labour Party faced “catas­tro­phe” if Mr Cor­byn fought a gen­eral elec­tion.

At 8.01am, be­fore those res­ig­na­tions could even be di­gested, Stephen Kin­nock had re­signed as par­lia­men­tary pri­vate sec­re­tary to the shadow busi­ness sec­re­tary An­gela Ea­gle.

Mr Kin­nock, who as son of the for­mer Labour leader Lord Kin­nock knows plenty about dis­as­trous elec­tion cam­paigns, said Mr Cor­byn did not have “the req­ui­site skills or ex­pe­ri­ence” to lead the party through years of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

With 12 shadow cabi­net posts empty and four ju­nior posts to fill, Mr Cor­byn tried to seize the ini­tia­tive by an­nounc­ing a new line-up at 8.30am.

Emily Thorn­berry found her­self pro­moted to shadow for­eign sec­re­tary (re­plac­ing Hi­lary Benn, whose sack­ing had started the cri­sis), with Diane Ab­bott at health. Then the likes of Kate Osamor (in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment) Rachel Maskell (en­vi­ron­ment) and Cat Smith (youth af­fairs) were plucked from ob­scu­rity to make sure Mr Cor­byn had some­one – any­one – sit­ting next to him in the House of Com­mons for the EU ref­er­en­dum de­bate later in the day.

Clive Lewis was given the job of shadow de­fence sec­re­tary de­spite be­ing an op­po­nent of Tri­dent. His first task was to ap­pear at de­fence ques­tions in the Com­mons. The only prob­lem (apart from his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence) was that he was not back from the Glas­ton­bury Fes­ti­val. So Ms Thorn­berry had to pre­tend she was still do­ing her old job, and took his place.

Steve Reed, shadow min­is­ter for lo­cal gov­ern­ment, quit at 8.40am, warn­ing of elec­toral “an­ni­hi­la­tion” if the Labour leader stayed on.

Mr Cor­byn broke cover at 9am, leav­ing his house in north Lon­don for a meet­ing with his deputy, Tom Wat­son, who man­aged to spend five min­utes of their 20-minute meet­ing telling him what a mar­vel­lous time he had had at the Glas­ton­bury Fes­ti­val.

Mr Wat­son also told him he had lost au­thor­ity among his MPs and faced a “bruis­ing” lead­er­ship con­test if he re­fused to stand down. What he did not do was give him his back­ing.

At least Mr Cor­byn will al­ways be able to rely on his friends in the unions. Mark Ser­wotka, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Pub­lic and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices union, de­scribed Labour MPs try­ing to oust the leader as “self-in­dul­gent” and said Mr Cor­byn was “the best per­son to lead the Labour Party” through the tur­moil ahead. Dave Pren­tis, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Uni­son, said Mr Cor­byn’s man­date to lead should be “re­spected”.

By 11am it was high time for an­other res­ig­na­tion. Roberta Black­man-Woods quit as shadow hous­ing min­is­ter, with Jess Phillips quit­ting as par­lia­men­tary pri­vate sec­re­tary to the ed­u­ca­tion team 10 min­utes later.

Ms Phillips ad­mit­ted she felt “a bit silly” writ­ing a res­ig­na­tion let­ter, as it “seems a bit grand”, but there was noth­ing silly about the points she made in it. “The Labour Party is not about you,” she told him. “It’s about us, most of all it’s about them, the brilliant peo­ple in the UK.

“I’m re­ally wor­ried that you can­not see that you have made this all about you and not about them.”

Then came Mr Cor­byn’s sec­ond meet­ing of the day, which proved, per­haps pre­dictably, to be dis­as­trous. His five soft-Left shadow min­is­ters, Lisa Nandy, Owen Smith, Nia Grif­fiths, Kate Green and John Healey had asked to see him with the in­ten­tion of telling him they were go­ing to sup­port him, sub­ject to cer­tain as­sur­ances. They were aghast when John McDon­nell, the shadow chan­cel­lor, “barged in” and hi­jacked the meet­ing, “lec­tur­ing” the MPs and vow­ing to fight on.

They wanted to ask Mr Cor­byn how he would bring the party back to­gether, but Mr McDon­nell told them those who had re­signed would be pun­ished rather than brought back into the fold. The bunker men­tal­ity ap­palled them.

“They got a lec­ture from John McDon­nell with Cor­byn do­ing his best wood­work teacher im­pres­sion,” a Labour source told The Daily Tele­graph.

“They came out and thought ‘Oh my God. Your plan is to carry on and change noth­ing?’. They had a chat and agreed to re­sign’.”

All five later quit, re­mov­ing one of Mr Cor­byn’s last sup­port bases within the shadow cabi­net.

Be­fore mid­day two more MPs had gone: Jenny Chapman, MP for Dar­ling­ton, re­signed from Labour’s ed­u­ca­tion team and Colleen Fletcher had re­signed as the PPS at De­fra.

Ms Nandy and Mr Smith were the first mem­bers of the shadow cabi­net to re­sign since Sun­day night, and they were quickly fol­lowed by an­other – An­gela Ea­gle, the shadow busi­ness sec­re­tary.

The good ship Cor­byn was now sink­ing faster than its cap­tain could bale the wa­ter out. An­gela Ea­gle’s twin sis­ter Maria quit the cul­ture, me­dia and sport brief, tak­ing the tally to 15 res­ig­na­tions, and it wasn’t even lunchtime.

Anger at Mr Cor­byn’s stub­born­ness ap­peared to be turn­ing to de­spair. An­gela Ea­gle was clearly close to tears as she ap­peared on Ra­dio 4’s World at

One pro­gramme, say­ing: “It’s just not work­ing. Today is about Jeremy and the de­ci­sion he’s got to take and I very much hope that he will take it.”

Still Mr Cor­byn re­fused to bend. He would not be brought down by a “cor­ri­dor coup”, his aides growled, promis­ing yet an­other new-look shadow cabi­net. Mr Cor­byn’s team could not, how­ever, keep up with the sheer pace of events.

A leaked reshuf­fle list, drawn up at 1.05pm, showed res­ig­na­tions or in­tended re­movals in red – 41 names in all. Less than 20 min­utes af­ter it had been drawn up, it was al­ready out of date. Nick Thomas-Sy­monds quit as shadow em­ploy­ment min­is­ter, Lu­ciana Berger re­signed her men­tal health brief and Thangam Deb­bonaire quit as shadow min­is­ter for arts and cul­ture.

One of Labour’s ris­ing stars, the for­mer direc­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions Keir Starmer was next up, leav­ing his post as shadow im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, he had not been party to Hi­lary Benn’s at­tempted coup, but, like sev­eral other Labour MPs who had al­ready quit, he had de­cided that the mass res­ig­na­tions had made Mr Cor­byn’s po­si­tion “un­ten­able”.

Mr Cor­byn prob­a­bly felt like ly­ing down in a dark­ened room by now, but there was no hid­ing place, with the EU ref­er­en­dum de­bate tak­ing place in the Com­mons.

David Cameron could not re­sist hav­ing a joke or two at Labour’s ex­pense. Wel­com­ing to the House Rosena AllinKhan, the new mem­ber for Toot­ing, he said: “I’d ad­vise her to keep her mo­bile phone on, she might be in the shadow cabi­net by the end of the day.”

It only got worse for Mr Cor­byn when he stood up to re­spond to Mr Cameron’s state­ment on Brexit.

“Many peo­ple feel dis­en­fran­chised and pow­er­less,” he said, prompt­ing hoots of laugh­ter at his lack of self­aware­ness. He stum­bled on, only for some of his own MPs to shout “re­sign!” at him.

One Labour MP who will never turn against him is Dennis Skin­ner. Af­ter shak­ing Mr Cor­byn’s hand and pat­ting him on the back, the vet­eran Left-winger stuck two fin­gers up at rebels, in­clud­ing Mr Benn, on the back benches.

By 6pm a weary Mr Cor­byn was fac­ing a new low, this time in com­mit­tee room 14 of the Com­mons, where the Par­lia­men­tary Labour Party (PLP) was hold­ing its weekly meet­ing. One MP said they had never seen the room so full, as the vast bulk of Labour’s 229 MPs tried to cram in. Inside the room Alan John­son, the for­mer home sec­re­tary, “evis­cer­ated” Mr Cor­byn and his of­fice, telling him: “I’ll take my re­spon­si­bil­ity, you need to take yours.”

One MP de­scribed the mood as “de­spair­ing”, with MPs tak­ing it in turns to tell Mr Cor­byn he would de­stroy the party if he did not re­sign. Oth­ers used words like “heart­break­ing” and “just aw­ful”.

Chuka Umunna de­scribed the meet­ing as “pretty cat­a­strophic”, while an­other Labour MP de­scribed the Labour leader as “a vac­uum sur­rounded by an empti­ness”. Mr Cor­byn’s re­sponse was to tell them he wants to win a gen­eral elec­tion. The PLP de­cided to hold a vote of no con­fi­dence in him.

Out­side Par­lia­ment, a rally of the hard-Left Mo­men­tum group was shout­ing its sup­port for Mr Cor­byn. Mr Cor­byn joined them and ranted about “the grotesque ex­ploita­tion of work­ers on zero-hours con­tracts”. He seethed at “a gov­ern­ment giv­ing tax breaks to the su­per-rich in our so­ci­ety”.

For a brief mo­ment, it was as if the events of the past week had never hap­pened.

Mr Cor­byn can­not es­cape from re­al­ity, though. At 4pm today, when the re­sult of the no con­fi­dence bal­lot is an­nounced, he will dis­cover just how many of his MPs are against him.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn with a crowd of his Mo­men­tum sup­port­ers in Par­lia­ment Square last night

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