People’s Vote ‘no Brexit betrayal’
JOHN Mcdonnell has insisted a second Brexit referendum would not be a betrayal of voters as he confirmed Labour will back a People’s Vote “if we get to a situation where we’ve tried everything”.
The shadow chancellor rejected warnings from Len Mccluskey, the influential leader of the Unite union, that a fresh poll risked selling out voters – and said he would vote Remain if another referendum was held.
Mr Mcdonnell said Labour would push for its own Brexit proposals, before attempting to force a general election if these were rejected.
If that failed, he said his party would move towards other options – including a public vote.
He said it was “inevitable” another referendum would include an option to stay in the EU.
But asked how Labour would campaign on a second vote, he said: “We’ll discuss that as we get near.”
Despite Brussels repeatedly saying it won’t reopen talks, Mr Mcdonnell said the EU would renegotiate a Brexit deal with Labour if
Theresa May’s proposal is rejected on Tuesday.
He made the comments in Glasgow as he began a two-day visit to Scotland.
Asked if he agreed with Mr Mccluskey, he said: “No, I think if we get to a situation where we’ve tried everything…
“We’re doing our best – if you watch the tone of the interventions yesterday and my speech yesterday it was a sincere attempt to try and bring all parties together to try and agree a Brexit which would protect jobs and the economy.
“If we can’t get that, we need a general election because we can then change the team that will then do the negotiations.
“If we can’t get that, well I think people will recognise we will have no other option but to consider another public vote. And people will respect us for doing our best to implement the spirit of the referendum itself. We’ve got to resolve this issue. We can’t go on like this.”
It comes after Mr Mccluskey reportedly warned Labour MPS against backing a second referendum. Mr Mcdonnell said Labour wanted a permanent customs union and a “close and collaborative” relationship with the single market.
He argued Theresa May’s deal was “badly negotiated” and would not be voted through, and insisted there was still time for his party to secure a better agreement.
Elsewhere, he said he fully supported Scottish Labour plans to hike taxes, despite backing cuts elsewhere in the UK.
Mr Mcdonnell faced a backlash from within his own party after saying he would not reverse Tory tax cuts for higher earners.
Addressing the issue yesterday, Mr Mcdonnell said: “[Scottish Labour leader] Richard Leonard is developing a radical programme which would require the funding that he’s identified and a fair taxation system.
“I fully support that approach, of course I do. That’s what devolution is all about — it’s about people making their own decisions within their own area.”
But Labour’s position on a second independence referendum has again been thrown into confusion ahead of the shadow chancellor’s visit north of the Border.
Scottish leader Richard Leonard previously insisted Labour would “categorically” state its opposition to another vote ahead of any general election.
But this was later undermined by Mr Mcdonnell, who said a Labour Government would “consider whatever proposals come from Scotland”.
Mr Leonard has now stressed he will “fight with every sinew” in his body to make sure another referendum is ruled out in the party’s next manifesto.
Shadow Chancellor John Mcdonnell is on a two-day trip to Scotland and met the media.