Monday 13 May 2019 8:26 am

Sir Keir Starmer: Labour MPs would reject Brexit deal without second referendum

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has warned up to 150 Labour MPs would reject any Brexit agreement that did not include a second referendum.

Starmer said more than two-thirds of Labour MPs could oppose any deal that did not include a public vote, meaning it would be unlikely to pass through Parliament.

Read more: Art exports from UK hit three-year high in 2018 ahead of Brexit

“A significant number of Labour MPs, probably 120 if not 150, would not back a deal if it hasn’t got a confirmatory vote,” he told the Guardian.

“If the point of the exercise is to get a sustainable majority, over several weeks or months of delivering on the implementation, you can’t leave a confirmatory vote out of the package.”

Speaking ahead of crucial negotiations today, Starmer also warned Labour risked losing the trust of Remain voters after the party suffered worse-than-expected losses in the local elections.

“There is concern in Leave areas about whether some of our voters might vote for other parties, but I think there is an increasing concern that some of the Labour Remain voters might not vote Labour,” he said.

But he urged Labour Remain supporters tempted to vote for the Lib Dems or Change UK that only Corbyn’s party could deliver a second referendum.

The shadow Brexit secretary, who worked as a human rights lawyer for 20 years, framed the upcoming European elections as a battle to protect the UK’s values of “dignity, equality and non-discrimination”.

“It’s really important we make the case that this is not the country of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson,” he said. “That intolerance and hatred and division is not representative of our country. If they win, that is what they are representing.”

Read more: UK voters think the Brexit Party and Change UK will disappear in 10 years

But with the clock ticking on Brexit negotiations, Starmer said Labour should not be afraid to call time on the talks if Prime Minister Theresa May did not compromise on her red lines.

“I think it would be wrong in principle to use up much more time simply exploring each other’s positions,” he said. “I do think we do probably in the coming days need to make that assessment.”