UK Politics

Brexit vote will be honoured, says Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott Image copyright PA

Another EU referendum is not "off the table" for Labour but would probably be won by Leave again, says Diane Abbott.

The shadow home secretary said she was "as sure as anyone can be" that "the referendum vote will be honoured and we will come out of the EU next spring".

But she repeated her warning that those urging a new referendum should should "be careful what they wish for".

"My view is that ...Leave would win again," she told Nick Robinson's Political Thinking podcast.

"And not only would Leave win again but Leave voters would say: 'What didn't you understand about Leave the first time?'"

At the Labour Party conference in September, party members approved a motion that would keep all options - including a fresh referendum - on the table if MPs are deadlocked over Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would respect the result of the vote - but said last week that a new referendum was "an option for the future" but "not an option for today".

The People's Vote campaign group, which organised a march in London in October which it said attracted about 700,000 people, wants a referendum on the final withdrawal deal.

'Not clear'

But Labour says it would prefer to see a general election, if Theresa May loses the "meaningful vote" on her Brexit deal.

Asked how that could come about, as the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act means two-thirds of MPs would have to vote in favour of an election, or go through a no-confidence procedure, Ms Abbott said: "This is an era of things that you never thought could happen, are happening and whatever the legislation says, in the end, Parliament disposes and Parliament proposes."

She said she had been an MP through parliamentary "turmoil" under Margaret Thatcher and John Major but added: "I have never seen anything like this and there is a tiny bit of me which thinks this might all end in a general election. It's not clear how that would happen but you can't escape thinking about that."

Earlier this week, shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested Labour could form a minority government, without a general election.

Ms Abbott was asked whether Labour would ally itself with the DUP - the Northern Ireland Unionist party which has been supporting Theresa May's government in key Commons votes.

She said: "We would only want to ally with a group of MPs who agreed with us on the issues at stake. At this point, we don't agree with the DUP on the issues at stake, but in this sort of parliamentary turmoil you can't necessarily rule anything out.

"I always say to my MP colleagues that the people of Hackney send me to Parliament to get rid of the Tories and if it's all about getting rid of this Tory government you do what it takes."

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