LABOUR could be “ripped apart” by Brexit as the party’s split widen over backing a second referendum or the Norway-plus model.
Jeremy Corbyn is expected to be put under increased pressure at today’s shadow cabinet meeting to commit to another Brexit vote while support among Labour leavers is leaning towards a closer relationship with Brussels after Britain leaves the EU. The Labour leader was blindsided by his deputy, Tom Watson, attending last weekend’s Put It To The People March in which more than one million Remainers demanded a confirmatory vote on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Meanwhile, dozens of Labour Brexiters are softening towards a divorce deal which would keep Britain in the customs union by signing the UK up to the European Economic Area, a plan known as Norway-plus or Common Market 2.0.
That scheme would solve the Irish border deadlock and has been backed by Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock, Lucy Powell and the party’s leadership but hard Brexiters view it as a betrayal no different than staying in the European Union.
Shadow justice secretary Gloria De Piero became the latest Labour MP to back Norway-plus which would force Britain to accept freedom of movement, one of Theresa May’s biggest red lines in negotiations with Brussels.
An amendment tabled by Labour in the Commons yesterday, which was ultimately not moved by Mr Corbyn, mentioned Norway-plus as well as a second referendum as among alternative Brexit options.
However, Mr Corbyn is yet to officially back a second Brexit vote despite the move being backed by the party’s conference.
A source from the People’s Vote campaign, the group behind Saturday’s mega central London protest, told The Times they would be relaxed if Labour continued to back a soft Brexit but only if the party also supported putting their version to voters.
He added if Jeremy Corbyn did not eventually come around to supporting their campaign it would “rip Labour apart”.
Mr Corbyn has said he would only support another referendum if he failed to secure MPs’ backing for his style of Brexit.