Tom Watson calls for second referendum before general election

Mr Watson wants Labour to campaign to remain in the EU

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The deputy leader of the Labour Party will call on his party to back a second referendum on Brexit before any general election is held.

Tom Watson will tell members in a speech today that an election focussed on Brexit may not break the stalemate in Parliament whereas a new referendum could do so with certainty.

The West Bromwich MP's comments could set him at odds with party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who told union members yesterday that an election “is coming”.

Mr Corbyn has twice Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s calls for a snap poll, insisting that a no-deal Brexit must be off the table first.

But should a referendum occur after a general election, Mr Watson will argue that Labour should commit "unambiguously and unequivocally" to campaign for remain.

This, he will say, will win back remain voters who are unsure on Labour’s position, saying "If we did it we could win, whereas if we don't I fear we won't."

Mr Corbyn has said a Labour government would hold a new referendum - with remain and a "credible" option for leave on the ballot paper.

He has not confirmed his stance.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Conservative Party James Cleverly has criticised Mr Watson’s bid as a "trick”.

He said: “Labour's deputy leader makes clear Labour want to cancel the referendum result.

“This latest trick would mean delaying Brexit again for up to a year, handing over £250 million a week to Brussels for no purpose.

“Labour are running scared of an election and only offer more dither and pointless delay.”

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