Europe

UK: Calls mount for second referendum on Brexit

After parliament's rejection of Brexit deal, 71 Labour MPs back 2nd referendum as vote of no confidence in government looms

16.01.2019
UK: Calls mount for second referendum on Brexit

By Muhammad Mussa

LONDON

A day after the government’s Brexit deal went down in defeat in parliament, calls for a “people’s vote” on the deal are growing louder, as 71 opposition Labour MPs have given their backing to a second referendum.

The letter, signed by a further 13 MEPs, will add increasing pressure to the party leadership to hold a second referendum should they lose Wednesday’s vote of no confidence, as is expected.

“We must try and remove this government from office as soon as possible. But the removal of the government and pushing for a general election may prove impossible,” said the letter.

“We now face a moment of national crisis, where the facts and the views of many people have changed -- and are continuing to change,” the letter said, adding: “It is now clear renegotiation [of the rejected Brexit deal] is not a realistic prospect.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly stated that seeking a general election to oust Prime Minister Theresa May is his top priority and made no mention in his speech after May’s defeat of backing a public vote.

However, the Labour party’s annual conference last year passed a motion that if a general election were not possible, the party would support all options, including campaigning for a public vote.

Adding pressure to Corbyn was Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party in Westminster, who urged Labour to support a people’s vote.

“The prime minister knew this deal … was dead when she moved the meaningful vote, and she knows that last night was the last straw,” Blackford said.

“The prime minister must now seek the confidence of the people, not simply the confidence of this House. The only way forward ... [is to] ask the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom whether they want the prime minister’s deal or to remain in the European Union,” Blackford added.

Also urging Corbyn to back a second referendum was the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, who said that “we would like to see the back of Theresa May. This may now clear the way for Jeremy Corbyn to put the issue back to the voters.”

On Tuesday May suffered the heaviest parliamentary defeat of any sitting government after MPs voted in an overwhelming 432-202 vote against her Brexit deal.

Shortly after, Corbyn announced that he would be launching a vote of no confidence in May’s government and would seek a general election to oust the Conservatives.


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