Sadiq Khan has waded into Labour’s war over Brexit, warning that neutrality is “not an option”.
The London mayor said the party had arrived and a “vital crossroads”.
“At conference this week, we have the opportunity to come together to define how we seek to deal with the biggest challenge facing our country – Brexit,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“Labour’s values of solidarity, social justice and internationalism are clearly best served by remaining in the European Union.
“So I’m making a direct appeal to delegates at Labour conference: do not accept any ‘compromise’ on Brexit, do not accept a fudge, do not delay us setting out what our stance would be in any future referendum.”
Khan added that Labour was a “Remain” party and that it should make it policy to campaign to stay in the EU under all circumstances, and that its MPs should be whipped into backing that position.
“Staying neutral in the face of the biggest economic and social threat to our country for decades is simply not an option,” he said.
“It’s time for Labour to commit to stopping Brexit – not only by promising to give the British public the final say, but by pledging to throw all our energy behind the campaign to stay in the European Union.”
Khan’s intervention directly challenges Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy, which is for the party to negotiate a new Brexit deal three months after an election, and then hold a second referendum three months after that.
The party would only decide which way to campaign at a special conference to be held after the election.
Corbyn’s position has the backing of Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee.
The issue is expected to be voted on tomorrow during conference.
The NEC-backed policy is at odds with senior members of Labour’s shadow Cabinet, including shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and deputy leader Tom Watson – who dodged an attempt to oust him by Momentum founder Jon Lansman over the weekend.
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Thornberry told a rally organised by the People’s Vote campaign: “Whatever terms are agreed by which we leave the European Union, by whatever government, no matter what it says, we must make sure that there’s a second referendum, we must make sure that Remain is on the ballot paper, we must make sure that Labour campaigns for Remain – and not just that, but that we lead the campaign to Remain.”
She added: “We believe in internationalism. We believe in socialism. And if we believe in internationalism and socialism – why on earth would we back Brexit?”