Labour to back official bid for second referendum on Brexit this week
Labour will back an official bid for a second EU referendum this week, the party's Brexit chief has declared.
Sir Keir Starmer said it is "inevitable" that MPs will table an amendment in Parliament to Boris Johnson's deal in the coming days to ensure any final decision is put to the people.
He admitted a referendum would "probably" take about six months to arrange. But speaking after organisers claimed a million marched for a 'People's Vote', he suggested it was worth the wait because the question is "fundamental".
The Shadow Brexit Secretary told the BBC: "Of course we need an amendment to say that whatever deal gets through, it should be subject to a referendum.
"Where that deal is put to the public and they’re asked 'do you want to leave on these terms, or would you rather remain in the EU'."
Sir Keir said any amendment would most likely come from campaigning backbench MPs – such as Labour's Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson.
Asked If Labour would then back it, he replied: "Yes. Almost every victory we've had on anything in the last three years has come from the back benches."
Asked to confirm if Labour would whip MPs to vote for such an amendment he replied: "We've already voted I think three times as a party for a second referendum with a three line whip behind it and that is the clear policy.
"Whether it's this deal or any future deal, it's got to go back [to] the public."
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told Sky News: “That will almost inevitably come up. There was an amendment tabled on Saturday. We’ve always said, let the people decide.”
Sir Keir added: "A growing number of people believe now the only way to truly settle this is to ask – do you want to leave on these terms or would you rather remain?"
MPs forced Boris Johnson last night to send a letter to the EU asking for a three-month delay to Brexit.
In a political stunt that could be fought in court the PM refused to sign the letter, and sent another at the same time branding a delay "corrosive".
Despite the setback the Prime Minister is planning to push on and attempt to pass his Brexit deal by October 31 anyway.
To do that he needs to pass a law called the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) which will begin its journey through the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The government will also try to have a single 'meaningful vote' on whether to accept Boris Johnson's deal on Monday afternoon.
It's the WAB that MPs will use to attach conditions to Boris Johnson's Brexit deal as it passes through Parliament.
Sir Keir said he expected "dozens" of amendments – including ones tabled by Labour to attach a customs union with the EU and single market alignment.
Despite saying Labour will back a second referendum amendment, Sir Keir refused to say exactly what form that would take.
Because of the way the law works, Labour could in theory end up backing an amended version of Boris Johnson's deal – on the condition it is put back to the people in a vote.
That risks prompting a major row at the highest levels of the party, where shadow ministers are pressing Jeremy Corbyn to take a pro-Remain stance.
Sir Keir would not comment on whether backing Boris Johnson's deal with conditions would be the end result, saying: "I don’t know I really don’t know because things are moving so fast."
Sir Keir said any decision this week would not be the final step. "There will be an amendment on a referendum," he said.
"Whether there will be detailed amendments put next week for the whole of the referendum I don’t know, there’s a lot of discussions going on.
"But the principle is very very clear."
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