Labour would campaign for Remain in a second Brexit referendum was held under a Conservative government, but Jeremy Corbyn has not said what he would do if he becomes Prime Minister.
Following a meeting of the shadow cabinet on Tuesday morning, Corbyn emailed all party members to announce Labour would back staying in the EU in another public vote, if no deal and the agreement struck by the Conservatives were the other options on the ballot paper.
However, the message made no mention of what Labour would do should it win power before Brexit is resolved – despite unions affiliated to the party calling for the Corbyn to back a referendum in those circumstances.
Instead, the Labour leader indicated he still believes his party’s Brexit policy – which includes signing the UK up to a customs union with the EU whilst somehow retaining an independent trade policy – “could bring the country together.”
His email read: “Whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote.
“In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs.”
In an interview with the BBC, Corbyn confirmed the party would not clarify its position on whether to back a referendum should it win power until a general election was on the horizon.
“We’ll decide our policy when the election comes,” he said, adding: “But at this moment we will do everything we can to prevent no deal and give people a choice whether it’s that or remain within the EU.”
The announcement comes less that 24 hours after trade unions affiliated to Labour called on the party to back a second referendum even if it wins power.
According to a report from the meeting, union bosses believe “any final Labour deal should then be put back to the people.”
The ballot paper should be the options of accepting Labour’s deal or remaining in the EU.
“The Labour Party’s campaign position on such a ballot should depend on the deal negotiated,” according to the report, meaning the party could urge voters not to support the agreement it had secured with the EU.
Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who has now joined the Lib Dems, said: “Yet another fudge, where the Labour leadership keep open the door to standing on a pro-Brexit platform in a General Election or supporting it in government.“