A leading pro-European Labour MP has called on Jeremy Corbyn to sack any shadow ministers who refuse to support a second Brexit referendum.
Ian Murray, a prominent supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said the Labour leader needed to prove his commitment to a referendum by telling his MPs to back the measure in any Westminster vote, or else face sanctions.
Many pro-EU Labour MPs suspect Corbyn has been forced into reluctantly supporting a second referendum and could fail to properly enforce the policy when the amendment calling for one is put to the Commons. It has been proposed by two Labour backbenchers, Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson.
“The problem with the Kyle-Wilson amendment is this: it will only pass if the Labour front bench enthusiastically support it, whip it, then we win it,” Murray told a fringe event at the Scottish Labour party conference in Dundee on Saturday.
Corbyn offered only lukewarm support for a referendum in his Scottish conference speech on Friday, and is being lobbied hard by competing groups at Westminster.
Many Labour frontbenchers and MPs have expressed doubts about a fresh referendum, and some shadow ministers who fear alienating pro-Brexit voters have suggested they would resign if forced to back it.
More than a dozen shadow cabinet ministers, including the shadow housing minister, Melanie Onn, and the shadow justice minister, Gloria De Piero, warned against backing the fresh vote in January. Equally, Corbyn has been told to expect up to 10 frontbench resignations if he fails to press for it.
Support at Westminster for a second referendum is delicately balanced, with its supporters acknowledging that they do not yet know whether they would win a Commons vote on the amendment. Much hinges on the votes of the Scottish National party, which has 35 MPs, and anti-Brexit Tory MPs. Read more