Labour considering referendum?

Are Labour going to endorse a second referendum?

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Are Labour really coming round to the idea of a second referendum?

By Joe Harker

As it looks increasingly likely that Theresa May isn't going to get the support for her Brexit deal in the House of Commons eyes turn to what will happen next. The prime minister has been trying to drum up support for her deal among the public rather than the MPs she needs to convince, fueling the idea that another referendum or perhaps a general election where May will stand with her deal in the manifesto will be the result. This government that has survived many things that should perhaps have brought it down may finally hit an obstacle it cannot endure.

While all eyes are on the Tories at the moment there is also consideration for what Labour might push for. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated that his party will not be backing Theresa May's deal, so she will only be able to count on a smattering of Brexit supporting rebel MPs to provide support from the opposition.

Labour's position has been that they will push for a general election if May's deal fails, though they cannot actually force her to call one. Most of the party's voters backed Remain at the referendum and some would prefer the party to support the idea of a second vote on the matter instead of trying to get into government themselves and do Brexit their own way.

With the EU clear that there will be no more negotiation and stating the deal Theresa May has agreed is the final offer on the table, Labour's suggestion that they strike their own deal after winning a general election looks more ridiculous. Why would there be an election triggered by Brexit if the party that assumes power hasn't got the authority to make changes to Brexit?

However, the chance for another vote on leaving the EU is still available, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggesting the party will consider backing a second referendum if they can't get a general election. He said: "I have not given up on the prospect of a General Election.

"If we can't get a General Election, yes, we'll be moving towards that consideration of another referendum."

McDonnell was cagey on whether the party would campaign to Remain if there was another vote, saying it would be "decided democratically by our party". He said: "We've campaigned for Remain before, I've voted for Remain and that will be the debate that we have."

Cabinet minister Michael Gove warned his fellow Tories that the prospect of another referendum would grow if the prime minister's deal was not passed through the House of Commons. The crucial vote is on December 11 and Theresa May is touring the UK to drum up support for her deal, though she is appealing to the public rather than the MPs who will vote on the deal.

Having lost the support of the DUP the prime minister has no majority in the Commons, while the other parties that have seats either support Remain or have said they won't back her deal. Combined with several Tory MPs saying they will vote against the prime minister it seems like she doesn't have the numbers needed. If that happens Labour will need to be clear and decisive about the direction it champions.

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