Shadow chan­cel­lor says a sec­ond poll would ‘in­evitably’ re­quire Re­main op­tion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY TOM PETERKIN

John McDon­nell yesterday said the UK may be forced to hold a so-called Peo­ple’s Vote and claimed it was “in­evitable” that a sec­ond Brexit poll would in­clude a Re­main op­tion.

The shadow chan­cel­lor said that there may be “no other op­tion” than to hold an­other ref­er­en­dum if a new Brexit deal can­not be ne­go­ti­ated or there is no gen­eral elec­tion.

Mr McDon­nell de­nied sug­ges­tions by Unite gen­eral sec­re­tary Len McCluskey that a Peo­ple’s Vote would be a be­trayal of the 2016 Leave re­sult.

On a visit to Glas­gow, Mr McDon­nell said Labour was mak­ing a “sin­cere at­tempt” to bring par­ties to­gether around the party’s vi­sion of keep­ing the UK in the cus­toms union while re­tain­ing close ties to the sin­gle mar­ket.

The shadow chan­cel­lor said Labour wanted a Brexit deal that would pro­tect jobs and the econ­omy.

“If we can’t do that, we need a gen­eral elec­tion to change the ne­go­ti­at­ing team,” Mr McDon­nell said.

“If we can’t do that, peo­ple will recog­nise we have no other op­tion but to con­sider an­other pub­lic vote.

“Peo­ple will re­spect us for do­ing our best to im­ple­ment the spirit of the ref­er­en­dum it­self. But we have got to re­solve this is­sue. We can’t go on like this.”

Mr McDon­nell an­swered “No” when asked if he agreed with Mr McCluskey’s view that an­other vote would be a be­trayal. When asked if he thought Re­main should be an op­tion on the Peo­ple’s Vote bal­lot pa­per, he replied that it was “in­evitable”.

“If it was, I would vote Re­main,” he added.

Mr McDon­nell also sig­nalled that he would not do a West­min­ster deal that would see Labour back in­dyref2 in re­turn for SNP sup­port in the House of Com­mons.

He said he was op­posed to a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence but stopped short of con­firm­ing that an anti-in­dyref2 stance would be writ­ten into a Labour gen­eral elec­tion man­i­festo.

The shadow chan­cel­lor was asked if he would be open to grant­ing the Ni­cola Stur­geon the power to stage an­other in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum in re­turn for SNP sup­port at West­min­ster.

“When we win the next elec­tion, we will win it with a sig­nif­i­cant ma­jor­ity, full stop. If we didn’t get a sig­nif­i­cant ma­jor­ity and we were in a mi­nor­ity po­si­tion we would gov­ern as a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment,” Mr McDon­nell said.

“We would lay out our poli­cies and lay out our man­i­festo and it would then be for other par­ties to sup­port or not. That would be their de­ci­sion.”

He said Labour op­posed fu­ture ref­er­en­dums but added that the con­tents of the party’s next gen­eral elec­tion man­i­festo had yet to be de­cided. He added that he would “con­sider” the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s pro-in­de­pen­dence man­date “if that arises”.

“We draft our man­i­festos demo­crat­i­cally,” Mr McDon­nell said. “We have what we call a clause five meet­ing. But in the last man­i­festo we said we were op­posed, full stop. We want a united coun­try that will con­cen­trate on those is­sues. I can’t see that pol­icy chang­ing.”

Ahead of the Scot­tish Bud­get due to be pre­sented next week, he said that Scot­tish Labour’s com­mit­ment to a higher in­come tax regime than that ad­vo­cated by the UK party was what de­vo­lu­tion “was all about”.

Mr McDon­nell has backed Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond’s pro­posal to raise the 40p higher in­come thresh­old to £50,000 at West­min­ster – a move that is not sup­ported by Scot­tish Labour.

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