LABOUR will not rule out allowing a second Brexit referendum to include the option of staying in the EU, Sir Keir Starmer has signalled amid signs of division at the top of the party.
Ahead of a vote at the party conference on Tuesday, the shadow Brexit secretary said that a motion on the highly divisive question that has dominated the event in Liverpool “doesn’t rule out Remain”.
His comments to the Independent came after shadow chancellor John McDonnell signalled that he would want any second Brexit referendum to be limited to choosing how to leave the EU.
Campaigners for a so-called People’s Vote – who staged a march in Liverpool on the conference’s opening day – have welcomed the motion, which states that if Labour cannot force an early general election it will “support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.
But they voiced concern after Mr McDonnell indicated that the leadership envisage any vote would only be on the terms of a Brexit deal.
He later appeared to row back, telling a fringe event that Sir Keir was right to say “we are keeping all the options on the table”.
Mr Starmer, who will give a speech at conference on Tuesday outlining opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit plan, struck a wider tone, telling the Independent: “The idea is to retain flexibility, the motion doesn’t rule out Remain, it doesn’t tie us to any position on what should be in any future vote.”
Mr Starmer will use his speech to say that Labour is preparing to vote down Mrs May’s EU withdrawal deal in Parliament.