Twenty-six Labour MPs, including Rosie Cooper
have written to Jeremy Corbyn to urge him to not commit to a second referendum, a position he is expected to inch even closer to this week. The MPs insist that Labour must “back a deal before 31 October” despite twenty of these MPs voting against the Withdrawal Agreement when they had the chance. The number of signatures on the letter is a reminder that there are more Labour anti-referendum votes than Tory pro-referendum votes.
“We write to you and the Shadow Cabinet in the aftermath of the local elections, the European elections and the Peterborough by-election. In 2017, Labour MPs were elected representing both strongly Leave-voting and strongly Remain-voting constituencies. Our Party campaigned on a pledge to respect the outcome of the 2016 referendum and negotiate Brexit. We still believe only this stance gives us the credibility to speak for the whole nation, not the 48% or the 52%.
“Our Party was devastated in the local elections in longstanding Labour-held councils. The strength of the Brexit Party in Labour heartland areas in the European elections revealed a much more potent threat than either the Liberals or Greens present.
“The Peterborough by-election result, with Labours vote share down 17%, and the Brexit Party coming so close, gives a stark warning of what could happen in Tory-Labour marginals, the majority of which are Leave seats. Labour’s briefing note to Peterborough canvassers sought to assure voters that Brexit will not be stopped. In relation to the Brexit Party candidate it said: “Once Brexit has happened, he won’t have any of the answers…” We agree. But we also agree that Brexit must happen. The UK must leave, and do so without further undue delay.
“A commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our Party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation, and giving the populist right an even greater platform in our heartlands.
“Labour has a vital role to play fighting for a Brexit for the many, not the few. But this is a battle best fought in stage two, after the UK has left. Rejecting any Brexit in the hope of securing a perfect deal risks the worst outcome – a No Deal Brexit. This would further alienate many who backed Labour in 2017.
“We urge the Party to put the national interest first to back a deal before 31 October”.