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Labour delays crunch decision on Brexit stance

A shadow cabinet meeting did not lead to a decision on whether Labour would campaign to remain in the EU in a fresh referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet did not come to a decision (Victoria Jones/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet did not come to a decision (Victoria Jones/PA)

Labour’s leadership has come under fire for delaying a decision on its position on a confirmatory Brexit referendum and whether to back a remain vote.

Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet did not come to a decision after being told that more time was needed to consult with trade unions on the issue.

There were “quite heated exchanges” at the meeting about the delay, according to a shadow cabinet source, while backbench MP Phil Wilson accused the party of “dithering”.

A decision on the referendum issue is now expected to take at least two weeks.

The longer this dithering goes on, the more damage will be done to our party Labour MP Phil Wilson

Former whip Mr Wilson, who backs the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, said: “This is the biggest decision facing our country for a generation and Labour voters, Labour members and Labour MPs expect our party to have a clear policy that reflects our values.

“Instead, we have to listen to muddle, confusion and the sound of the can being kicked listlessly down a never-ending road.

“The longer this dithering goes on, the more damage will be done to our party.”

East Lothian MP Martin Whitfield said: “It’s disappointing that the shadow cabinet has not reached an official position on supporting a final say on Brexit, but I remain confident this is just a matter of time.

“The UK Labour Party should follow Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s lead and swiftly move to become a party of Remain.

“That is what members and voters are crying out for, and as the prospect of a Boris Johnson premiership and a no-deal exit grows stronger, it is vital that Labour stands up for the poorest in society who will be hurt by Brexit.”

The shadow cabinet meeting came after former minister Jim Fitzpatrick revealed he will not stand at the next election as Labour asked its MPs if they wanted to seek re-selection.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who served in government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, shared a photo of his re-selection form confirming that he would not seek to stand again as a candidate.

Mr Fitzpatrick has been at odds with the party over Brexit and backed Theresa May’s deal in March.

He has been in Parliament since 1997 and his decision will create a vacancy in the safe Labour seat of Poplar and Limehouse.

Labour MPs have been given until July 8 to say whether they wish to stand for re-selection in their seats as the party gears up for a general election.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “In the event of a snap election, a volunteer parachutist may be needed if (there is) no time for full selection procedures to represent the great seat of Poplar and Limehouse.”

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