Labour okays 2nd Brexit vote as last resort

LONDON • The UK Opposition Labour Party’s ruling council agreed it would support a second referendum on Brexit only as a last resort, a decision that risks infuriating supporters who want leader Jeremy Corbyn (picture) to oppose leaving the European Union (EU).

While some Labour MPs and trade union leaders have called for the party to pledge support for another Brexit vote in all circumstances, the National Executive Council opted for a much more limited position.

The policy is to demand the government adopt Labour’s plan for a post-Brexit customs union with the EU, or to hold a general election (GE), the party said in a statement on Tuesday. Only if these options fail will Labour support a referendum.

Corbyn has tried to straddle both sides of the Brexit divide to retain the loyalty of pro-EU party members and MPs, while not alienating the Leave-voting supporters he needs to win power at the next GE.

Politicians from Brexit-voting districts warned that Labour candidates in their areas could suffer in local elections today if the party abandons its carefully crafted ambiguity and appears to favour remaining in theEU.

Tuesday’s meeting was arranged to sign off on Labour’s manifesto for the European Parliament elections scheduled for May 23. — Bloomberg