Author: Heather Stewart / Source: the Guardian
Jeremy Corbyn will resume Brexit talks with the prime minister on Thursday, after Labour tensions over a second referendum burst into the open, with the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, writing to colleagues to insist any pact must be put to a public vote.
Both Labour and Downing Street described the discussions as “constructive” and said they would hold technical talks, facilitated by civil servants, on Thursday.
“We have had constructive exploratory discussions about how to break the Brexit deadlock,” a Labour spokesperson said. “We have agreed a programme of work between our teams to explore the scope for agreement.”
An emergency shadow cabinet meeting was convened in the aftermath of the discussions to consider how Labour should proceed.
Thornberry wrote to colleagues to say that she was unable to attend for personal reasons – but would have insisted any deal must be subject to a public vote.
“What I would have said is that if we look like reaching any other decision than confirmatory vote that would be in breach of the decision made unanimously by conference in Liverpool and overwhelmingly supported by our members and it needs to be put to a vote? by the shadow cabinet,” the letter said.
She said the cabinet had held a vote on Tuesday and the shadow cabinet should adopt the same procedure. If it did, she said, “can I – in writing – confirm that my votes are that yes, any deal agreed by parliament must be subject to a confirmatory public vote, and, yes, the other option on the ballot must be remain”.
Corbyn accepted the prime minister’s surprise offer of negotiations, and her signal that she was willing to contemplate a softer form of Brexit, after a marathon cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
But he faces intense pressure from MPs concerned that he may be willing to sign up to a Brexit deal without submitting it to a referendum – and stressed afterwards that he had raised the issue.
In a tweet after the meeting with May, he said, “I put forward Labour’s alternative plan and raised the option of a public vote to prevent No Deal or leaving…