Jeremy Corbyn has written to all Labour MPs this afternoon, ahead of the indicative votes on Brexit options tonight.
In his letter, the Labour leader acknowledges that “from Hackney to Huddersfield, there are vastly different and passionately held views”, before setting out how the party aims to bring Leave and Remain voters together.
“We are committed to delivering on our manifesto pledge to respect the referendum result, by seeking support for Labour’s alternative deal for a close relationship with the EU,” the letter reads. “That is what we are campaigning for.”
But Corbyn goes on to make clear that “to break the deadlock”, he is asking Labour MPs to vote for motions tonight that “reflect aspects” of Labour’s deal – namely Ken Clarke’s customs union membership and Nick Boles’ Common Market 2.0.
“Further to that,” he adds, “should we be unable to win support for our deal, and if parliament does not give sufficient support to a similar proposition, we will keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote to prevent a no deal exit or a damaging Tory Brexit”.
This would suggest that Labour is backing another referendum only if its alternative deal does not pass and if another version of Brexit cannot win enough support in the Commons to pass without the condition that it is put to a public vote.
Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to all Labour MPs this afternoon.
I want to thank you for your support and comradeship in recent weeks, as we seek to deal with the Tory Brexit shambles.
Through their intransigence and incompetence, the Tories have failed to deliver a Brexit deal. They are risking the livelihoods of so many of our constituents and are fuelling resentment.
Theresa May has been forced to pre-announce her resignation, in a desperate attempt to seek support for her botched deal. The Chief Whip is attacking the cabinet. The government is falling apart. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate our readiness to take over.
People need a government which will sort out their schools, their hospitals, their council services and their community safety. Theresa May is preventing that happening.
We need to sweep this government away and let people take control through a general election, as agreed at our conference.
I know within the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the wider party, we have a variety of strongly-held views on Brexit.
And amongst voters in Labour seats, from Hackney to Huddersfield, there are vastly different and passionately held views. Those views are reflected in our election gains, whether that is Brighton and Canterbury, or Crewe and Weaver Vale. And we must also look to opinions in the seats we need to gain to win the next election.
I fully recognise the strength of feeling shown by recent protests and petitions from both Leave and Remain voters. Labour is committed to bringing these groups together as the basis for a new government.
We are committed to delivering on our manifesto pledge to respect the referendum result, by seeking support for Labour’s alternative deal for a close relationship with the EU.
I have discussed this with the EU’s negotiators and with colleagues in the Party of European Socialists, and I am sure it could be successfully negotiated.
That proposal, as we have said, seeks a permanent customs union, close alignment with the single market, and dynamic alignment on rights and protections.
That is what we are campaigning for. But in order to break the deadlock and find the consensus necessary to force a change to the red lines of the Prime Minister’s rejected deal, I also ask you to support motions that reflect aspects of Labour’s alternative plan, including a customs union and for Common Market 2.0.
Further to that, we have also been clear, should we be unable to win support for our deal, and if parliament does not give sufficient support to a similar proposition, we will keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote to prevent a no deal exit or a damaging Tory Brexit.
Those are the principles on which we approached last week’s indicative votes, and they are the principles on which we will approach future debates and votes.
I am working to bring together views from across the party and across parliament and I welcome the comradeship you have shown in pulling together.
Let’s make sure we are successful.
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Opposition