Labour’s Deputy Leader today mounted a renewed push for the party to wholeheartedly back a second Brexit referendum. Laura Kuenssberg warned Labour MPs are “worried” about Jeremy Corbyn making a clear statement arguing for another referendum, as many represent constituencies with mainly Leave voters. Ms Kuenssberg told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Monday morning: “We shouldn’t underplay what’s happening in the Labour Party since the European elections. So Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader who has a mandate of his own because he was of course also elected by party members.
“He’s making a big speech this morning where he will be again pushing harder and harder to try and get Jeremy Corbyn to commit to Labour actually being a straightforward party that is arguing for Britain to stay in the EU after a second referendum.
“Now we know all the reasons why Jeremy Corbyn has resisted this, there are plenty of Labour MPs who are worried about that idea because they represent constituencies that have lots of Leave voters in them.”
She added: “But there’s no question that the balance in the Labour Party is on the other side and it has been moving.
“There are plenty of senior people including some of those absolutely loyal to Jeremy Corbyn who basically now think it is time for the Labour leadership to make a clearer statement arguing for another referendum and arguing to keep the UK inside the European Union.
“And some of those even close to Jeremy Corbyn think it vital he does this before the summer, and they predict that we may end up with an election in the Autumn with the Tories arguing for leave and Labour arguing for Remain.”
Mr Watson said the prospect of Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson becoming prime minister meant there was an urgent need to act.
He used a video message to set out his case, claiming the left had been too timid to defend European values.
He said: ”I love Europe because I’m a democratic socialist. Socialism is achieving common causes by the strength of collective endeavour.
“That’s what Europe is. We’ve shied away from saying these things for too long.
“But now, as we stare down the barrel of a Boris Johnson premiership, we really must.”
Mr Watson will set out further details of his position in a keynote speech to the Centre for European Reform.
He will argue that a referendum is “the only way to break the political deadlock” at Westminster.
But immediate criticism came from party chairman Ian Lavery, who claimed the plan would “ignore” Leave voters and was neither “politically smart” nor “democratic”.
He tweeted: “Brexit has turned this country into a toxic nation.
“However ignoring the 17.4m leave voters isn’t politically smart nor indeed particularly democratic. Is it? #simplysaying”.