Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson walked out of a shadow cabinet meeting today in a bust-up over leader Jeremy Corbyn’s position on a second Brexit referendum.
Watson denied reports he stormed out of the meeting after copies of the party's EU manifesto document were not shared with the cabinet.
He tweeted: “I politely asked if the shadow cabinet were going to see the draft words and was told ‘no’. So I left to walk to the NEC where the document will be available and the decision will be made.”
The shadow cabinet were meeting to discuss Labour’s position on whether to demand a second referendum on Brexit as part of its campaign for the European parliament election next month.
However, the real decision is being taken by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) which is also meeting today.
The NEC is split between supporters of a second referendum and those who oppose such a pledge.
The party’s MPs are similarly split, with some MPs from leave voting constituencies fearing that support for a second vote would damage them at the polls.
The party’s split over Brexit was exemplified by the exit of seven MPs in February to found new party Change UK.
The ex-Labour MPs were later joined by three Tory rebels who opposed their former party’s stance on Brexit.
Up to now, Labour has stuck to its position that it would only back a second Brexit vote to prevent what it calls a “damaging Tory Brexit” or to prevent the UK leaving the bloc without a deal.
Watson has pushed strongly for Labour to back a second Brexit referendum .