71 Labour MPs back a People’s Vote – but issues remain unresolved

84 Labour MPs and MEPs, including shadow housing minister Roberta Blackman-Woods, joined together today to declare their public support for a fresh referendum on the UK’s EU membership. Describing no-deal as a “catastrophe”, the elected figures signed a letter urging the government to seek Article 50 extension and Labour to give people a “final say”.

Although the list of signatories was assumed by many to be the definitive directory of (71) Labour MPs supportive of another public vote, LabourList has found that a total of 88 MPs so far have declared their endorsements. This amounts to around a third of the parliamentary party. The reasons for which 17 MPs who have publicly backed the idea did not sign the letter today are unclear.

It could be that some of those MPs support a ‘people’s vote’, though not the letter. It explicitly contends, for instance, that “renegotiation is not a realistic prospect”, despite it being understood that this is Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred way forward. This statement – as well as increased coverage of their viewpoint, and the possibility of being associated with Corbynsceptics – could explain why just one of the eight frontbenchers who have openly campaigned for another public vote signed the letter.

The letter also states that the public would offer “the option to stay and keep the deal that we have”. But the signatories aren’t all agreed on this issue. Seema Malholtra, who recently announced her support for the People’s Vote campaign in a joint Sunday Times article with Sir Nicholas Soames, confirmed to LabourList that she would like to see an “EEA/CU-based deal” approved by parliament before putting it to the country, along with ‘Remain’.

Her route would require breaking the parliamentary deadlock on Brexit, which goes against the arguments of some who suppose that a ‘people’s vote’ is a solution to the standstill in itself. And if MPs could come together behind a Brexit deal based on European Economic Area or customs union membership, many could be tempted to leave it at that – for now, at least.

Malholtra’s proposal gives rise to one of the questions to which the People’s Vote campaign hasn’t given a single answer: what would the ballot paper would look like? It has been widely assumed by campaigners that May’s deal would be included as an option for voters to choose in addition to ‘Remain’, as outlined in the letter. However, the crushing defeat of that deal in the Commons this week casts doubt over such a path.

Ultimately, the launch this morning shows that Labour can only make the cross-party People’s Vote campaign successful if Corbyn lends his support. This is not only due to the leader’s own reservations, and the private polling done by his office that shows it would be electorally damaging. It is also because there is a significant level of opposition amongst shadow cabinet members and would lead to the resignations of key allies.

 


 

Below is the full statement and list of signatories published today.

This is an unprecedented and perilous moment in our history. With this Tory government in chaos and with the jobs and security of our constituents on the line – we strongly support the Labour decision to reject Theresa May’s “deal”.

We were appalled at her anti-democratic moves to prevent parliament having a vote, and to run down the clock by delaying it until mid-January. This was an utterly irresponsible decision, and gambling with the jobs and livelihoods of our constituents.

The Tory government approach has been disastrous since day one. Their plans would lead to more austerity, fewer jobs and less money for our public services. This is not what anyone voted for in 2016.

We represent hugely diverse constituencies from the North to the South, from Wales to Scotland. Many of our constituencies voted to Leave in 2016. We must listen to and respond to the reasons why people did so. But we now face a moment of national crisis, where the facts and the views of many people have changed – and are continuing to change.

It is now clear renegotiation is not a realistic prospect. No deal would be a catastrophe which we must resolutely oppose. The government should seek an extension to Article 50 to provide time for Parliament to find a way forward. Theresa May has failed to bring this country back together. Labour’s conference adopted a clear policy for this situation.

We must try and remove this government from office as soon as possible. But the removal of the government and pushing for a general election may prove impossible, so we must join trade unions, our members and a majority of our constituents by then unequivocally backing the only logical option to help our country move forward: putting the decision back to the people for a final say, in a public vote, with the option to stay and keep the deal that we have.

Defeat of the Tory deal in a public vote would give us all a chance to campaign for the anti-austerity policies and a Labour government that deals with the true causes of the Brexit vote, and a reformed Europe that works for all people.

Signed:

Debbie Abrahams MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Luciana Berger MP
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Karen Buck MP
Chris Bryant MP
Ruth Cadbury MP
Ann Clwyd MP
Ann Coffey MP
Neil Coyle MP
Mary Creagh MP
Alex Cunningham MP
Janet Daby MP
Geraint Davies MP
Stephen Doughty MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Louise Ellman MP
Mike Gapes MP
Kate Green MP
Lillian Greenwood MP
John Grogan MP
Rupa Huq MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Darren Jones MP
Maria Eagle MP
Susan Elan Jones MP
Julie Elliott MP
Graham Jones MP
Liz Kendall MP
Ged Killen MP
Peter Kyle MP
David Lammy MP
Chris Leslie MP
Seema Malhotra MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Siobhan McDonagh MP
Pat McFadden MP
Conor McGinn MP
Alison McGovern MP
Anna McMorrin MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Madeleine Moon MP
Stephen Morgan MP
Ian Murray MP
Albert Owen MP
Bridget Phillipson MP
Jess Phillips MP
Ellie Reeves MP
Rachel Reeves MP
Joan Ryan MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Barry Sheerman MP
Gavin Shuker MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Angela C. Smith MP
Owen Smith MP
Jo Stevens MP
Wes Streeting MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Stephen Timms MP
Anna Turley MP
Chuka Umunna MP
Matt Western MP
Martin Whitfield MP
Paul Williams MP
Phil Wilson MP
Daniel Zeichner MP

MEPs

Richard Corbett MEP (Leader of EPLP / Shadow Cabinet)
Derek Vaughan MEP
Seb Dance MEP
Paul Brannen MEP
Catherine Stihler MEP
Wajid Khan MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Clare Moody MEP
John Howarth MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
Jude Kirton Darling MEP
David Martin MEP
Mary Honeyball MEP

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