Labour conference: Party 'farcical' cop-out over watered down Brexit referendum motion

Margaret Hodge MP has accused Corbyn of racism

Margaret Hodge MP has accused Corbyn of racismJOEL GOODMAN LNP

The opposition leader has previously refused to publicly give his support to a "people's vote" on Theresa May's deal with the European Union, arguing he would prefer a General Election if the Brexit agreement fails to pass through Parliament.

The motion which delegates will vote on whether to support states: "If we can not get a General Election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote".

And he indicated that even if the decision on the European Union was put to the public in a referendum, the choice would be between accepting a deal or returning to the negotiating table rather than the option of remaining inside the bloc.

A caller lost his temper with the Labour front bench for "changing their stance" on Brexit and the idea of a second referendum.

But it is not clear how far the new motion will take a party that has said for some time has said that a second referendum is not off the table.

'If the people's party decide they want the people to have a final say on the deal, we have to respect the view of our members and we will go out and argue for it'.

More than 100 constituency parties submitted motions demanding a second referendum and thousands of people joined a march calling for a so-called People's Vote in order to put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn and the party to change course.

"The sheer levels of animosity that exists between Corbyn and his opponents is quite remarkable", Anand Menon, political professor at King's College London, told AFP ahead of the four-day event in Liverpool.

With talk of a new election swirling after May's "Chequers" plan was all but shredded at an European Union summit in Austria last week and chances of Britain exiting the bloc without a deal rising, Labour is under pressure to start setting the Brexit agenda.

The overwhelming majority of party members back a second referendum and the conference has been dominated by delegates wearing T-shirts that declare "Love Corbyn, Hate Brexit".

Corbyn appeared on the BB'C's Andrew Marr Show this morning and said he hoped there would be a general election soon.

Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson both said on Sunday that they would be "bound" by the democratic decision of the conference, even if that meant formal backing for a People's Vote.

'What comes out of conference I will adhere to.

"When it comes to opposing Brexit, members are clear - they want unequivocal support for a People's Vote, not some disappointing fudge by the leadership that simply leaves options on the table".

Jeremy Corbyn, as I understand it, wasn't in the meeting when the decision was taken but was at a party rally.

A poll published over the weekend found 86 per cent of party members think there should be a vote on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

Labour MP David Lammy said the choice would amount to a "farcical referendum on no deal or a bad deal".

'I hope we will agree that the best way of resolving this is a general election.

He told BBC radio any second vote should not include an option to stay in the EU.

Brexit is one of several challenges facing Corbyn, who heads a divided party.

"The leadership knows where the members are and they know where their voters are".

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