Will @jeremycorbyn and @UKLabour ever call for a second EU referendum on the Brexit deal? #Pestonpic.twitter.com/bxCl5PcM72
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) January 14, 2018
Jeremy Corbyn has refused to rule out backing a second referendum on EU membership.
The Labour leader said on Sunday morning the party was “not supporting or calling for a second referendum”.
“What we have called for is a meaningful vote in parliament and that is the one area I think parliament has asserted itself in the vote before Christmas,” he said.
Pressed on ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme whether that meant Labour would “never support a second referendum” in the future, Corbyn avoided the question. “We are not calling for one either,” he replied.
Corbyn also risked further angering Labour backbenchers who want the UK to remain in the single market by repeating the claim that “leaving he EU means you leave the single market”.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna told Sky News shortly after Corbyn’s comment: “In terms of the notion you have to be in the EU to be part of the single market, that is not correct.
“Noway, Lichtenstein and Iceland fully participate in the single market but they are not members of the EU. There is no reason why the UK, if we leave, should not have that kind of relationship.”
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, suggested on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Labour could end up supporting a second vote if it became clear a substantial proportion of the public backed remaining in the EU.
“As for a second referendum, the question is are you talking about the divorce or the final relationship, because the final relationship will be agreed in many years’ time,” she said.
“In either case, if 90% of the population was now saying we should stay in the EU and we must not leave, then that would be a challenge that would be there for all of us who are democrats.
“But at the moment, and as things currently stand, we proceed in good faith, we do as we are instructed. We are leaving the EU.”
Nigel Farage surprised both Remain and Leave supporting politicians on Thursday when he said he could back a second referendum in order to secure the Brexit vote.
In an interview with The Observer today, the former Ukip leader said he was worried Brexiteers could “lose the historic victory” they won in 2016 as “The …