Union chiefs agree Labour should back second EU referendum and Remain

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Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has agreed to the Brexit position

The bosses say the party should support a new public vote – and back staying in the EU – if a Tory PM agrees a fresh Brexit deal.

Labour-affiliated trade unions have agreed the party should campaign for a second EU referendum and support Remain if the next Conservative prime minister negotiates a fresh Brexit deal.

Labour should also campaign for another public vote – and support staying in the EU – if the UK is set for a no-deal Brexit, union leaders unanimously decided at a meeting.

The discussions also saw an agreement that, in the event of a general election, Labour’s manifesto should include a promise to negotiate their own Brexit deal with the EU.

This should then be put to a referendum, with a choice between Labour’s deal and remaining in the trading bloc.

Labour’s position in this scenario would depend on the deal the party negotiated, the union chiefs agreed, leaving open the possibility that the party would campaign against a deal it concluded with the EU.

As he left the talks in central London on Monday, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the union bosses would now report back to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The unions’ agreement does not automatically alter Labour’s position, but is likely to be influential as Mr Corbyn is under increasing pressure to move the party towards an explicitly pro-Remain stance.

A Labour source said: “Jeremy Corbyn has been working to unite the party and wider labour movement around a common agreed position.”

Mr McCluskey’s previous scepticism towards a second EU referendum had been viewed as one of the major obstacles preventing Mr Corbyn adopting a position wholeheartedly in favour of fresh public vote.

Last year, the Unite boss claimed a new referendum would risk “tearing our society further apart” and should not be “the first choice or the preferred option” for Labour supporters.

 

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