Referendum splitting Labour?

The prospect of a confirmatory referendum is divisive

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Is Labour split over demanding a confirmatory referendum?

By Joe Harker

Prime minister Theresa May has said the UK's choice on Brexit is now cross party collaboration or no Brexit at all, reports The Independent.

Seemingly trying to rule out the prospect of a no deal Brexit and encourage Labour in cross party talks, May said she would need to strike a deal with the opposition and there were no restrictions on the table.

Reports that the negotiations had hit problems due to the government's unwillingness to compromise hang over the negotiations.

The Claim:

80 Labour MPs have written to party leader Jeremy Corbyn asking him to make a confirmatory referendum a red line in cross party negotiations.

They said any deal should be put back to the public and a failure from party leadership to insist on this point would be "untenable". They claimed that any deal struck between May and Corbyn would lack legitimacy unless it was put to the public for a vote.

Condemning the current government as "finished", the MPs said Labour should take a hard line with the prime minister in cross party negotiations and make demands from May.

With the prime minister saying she is trapped between having to rely on Corbyn for help and the possibility of no Brexit at all that should put Labour in a position to add conditions to their assistance.

The Counter Claim:

While a portion of Labour MPs have written to Corbyn urging him to make a confirmatory referendum a requirement of support for a deal, party chairman Ian Lavery warned that backing a second vote would split the party.

The Daily Mail reports that a number of shadow cabinet members including deputy leader Tom Watson and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott supported a second referendum but Lavery hit out at the prospect.

Opponents of a second referendum in the shadow cabinet have said backing one would tell Labour voters who wanted to leave the EU that their vote during the 2016 referendum didn't matter.

The Guardian reports that May will not agree to a referendum on her deal, meaning cross party talks will fail if Labour insists on one as a red line for the deal.

They cite government sources as saying that the Conservatives will not agree to put a deal to parliament with a confirmatory referendum bolted on.

The Facts:

Labour's position on a second referendum has fluctuated over the past few months. During the recent indicative votes they supported a "confirmatory referendum", that is to say putting any deal approved in the House of Commons to another public vote.

During the first round of indicative votes 198 Labour MPs voted for a second referendum, while 27 opposed it. In the second round of votes that figure increased to 203 while 24 voted against it.

However, the party previously ordered MPs not to back a second referendum that would not be confirmatory in nature. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it wasn't the right time.

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