The harrowingly complicated and drawn out process of staggering toward whatever the hell Brexit may be has thrown forth another twist, the British Labour Party have announced that they will back a second Brexit referendum.
With 29th March, the date Britain is supposed to leave the EU according to the terms upon which they activated Article 50, drawing nearer, increasingly desperate measures are being considered by British politicians on all sides of the political spectrum, so as to avoid a no deal. Indeed, there have been growing rumours this week that, should the UK fail to have a deal approved by the House of Commons by this date, then the process could be delayed until 2021 to allow for further bargaining time. Indeed, Leo Varadkar seemed to imply that this would be the case today if there was no deal ready by then.
While much of the Labour Party, including its leader Jeremy Corbyn, had previously been reluctant to pledge support for putting a second referendum on Brexit to the British public, Sky News are reporting that they are now to throw their support behind the idea. With UK politics becoming more fractious as the 29th March draws nearer, it seems that new avenues are having to be considered by all sides.
They report that Jeremy Corbyn us set to tell a meeting of Labour MPs that Labour will either support, or put forward, an amendment favouring a second public vote, to hopefully ‘prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.’
They allege that he is to tell them that, ‘The prime minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous no-deal. We cannot and will not accept.’
Theresa May has confirmed this week that there will not be time to put forward a revised version of her deal to the House of Commons for a ‘meaningful vote’ in the immediate future. Indeed, aside from the logistical difficulties of trying to organise such a vote, the greater hurdle is that there is no desire from the EU to renegotiate any aspects of the deal which was historically defeated in the House of Commons last month.
The ultimate aim of the Labour Party here is to ensure that the UK is prevented from leaving the EU without a deal. Jeremy Corbyn will tell the Labour MPs later: ‘One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no-deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal.’
The European Courts ruled in December that were Britain to change its mind on leaving the EU, it could immediately cancel the process and retain member status. As such, the Labour move to push for a second referendum – while being impossible to organsie prior to the 29th March – is surely part of a move to have the leave date delayed to enable, ideally, a second referendum which would see an overturning of the previous referendum. However there would be significant difficulties in how to word such a referendum, particularly given the fact that, as with the referendum in June 2016, there is no clear course outlined for what it means to ‘Leave the EU’.
However, the announcement has been welcomed by those who had been campaigning for a second referendum – an issue which has created massive tensions within the Labour Party. Labour MP David Lammy said, “These are dangerous times for the Labour Party and our country. Jeremy Corbyn is today taking the first step to reunite our party by showing he is listening to our voters and members on this, the biggest issue of our time.”
It is expected that the proposed amendment for a second referendum will be put to parliament along with other amendments for the Brexit bill in the coming weeks.
H/T: Sky News