Labour members to vote on pro-Remain stance in challenge to Jeremy Corbyn

22 September 2019, 17:53 | Updated: 23 September 2019, 09:58

Labour members will get the chance to vote on the party adopting a pro-Remain position, despite Jeremy Corbyn pushing for Labour to delay a decision on its Brexit stance.

Following a late-night meeting on Sunday, it was decided two motions will be put to a vote at Labour's annual conference in Brighton on Monday.

These will be one advocating a pro-Remain position and another that will give Labour a neutral position.

If either motion is supported by conference attendees, it is likely to become Labour policy.

There is also another Brexit motion - tabled by Mr Corbyn and backed by Labour's ruling National Executive Committee - which says the party shall only decide how to campaign in a second EU referendum "through a one-day special conference, following the election of a Labour government".

The Labour leader has said, if he becomes prime minister, he would negotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU, which would then be put to a referendum against the option of staying in the bloc.

Mr Corbyn has refused to say how he would campaign in such a scenario, although he has previously said Labour would campaign to Remain in the face of a Conservative-negotiated Brexit deal or a no-deal Brexit.

The pro-Remain motion to be put to a vote on Monday has been proposed by more than 50 local Labour branches and states: "Labour must reflect the overwhelming view of its members and votes, who want to stay in the EU.

"Labour will therefore campaign energetically for a public vote and to stay in the EU in that referendum, while recognising the rights of those members who want to argue another view."

Andrew Lewin, founder of the Remain Labour group who worked on the motion, said: "This is a huge moment.

"Labour members will finally have the chance to make a definitive change to party policy and ensure Labour is committed to campaigning to Remain in the EU in all circumstances."

Mike Buckley, director of Labour for a Public Vote, said: "Labour is already the only main party committed to a democratic vote on Brexit.

"If we add a commitment to Remain we will at last be providing the leadership the country needs, in contrast to the chaos offered by an increasingly extreme Conservative Party."

The neutral motion on Brexit was supported by eight local Labour branches at Sunday night's meeting.

It states: "Our party leader has made our way forward abundantly clear; a public vote on a deal agreed with the EU giving people a final say between a credible Leave option and Remain.

"At all times Labour will seek to overcome division and build maximum consensus around policies for the many, not the few."

Labour's conference has been dominated by the party's split on Brexit, with leading shadow cabinet members calling for the party to adopt an unequivocal pro-Remain stance - despite Mr Corbyn's preference for a neutral position for now.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, a prominent ally of Mr Corbyn, has said members of the Labour leader's top team should support him on Brexit or "step aside".

But shadow chancellor John McDonnell played down a sense of Labour disunity in Brighton, telling Sky News: "Len is being Len.

"We're working together as a party to make sure that people have a choice and the people will decide.

"That means having another referendum in which the people will be able to decide between a sensible option in terms of Leave, and making sure they also have the option of Remain.

"I've said personally I think the best option is Remain.

"But we've got to give people the choice and let them have the final say - and that's what we'll do."

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and London mayor Sadiq Khan have all called for the party to adopt an outright pro-Remain position.