On Sunday, John McDonnell suggested Labour could resurrect Theresa May’s Brexit deal and pit it against remaining in the EU in a second referendum. The Shadow Chancellor claimed that if Labour won power in a general election, Britons would be given the option of staying in the European club or leaving under a revised version of the deal Mrs May negotiated with the bloc and Parliament rejected three times. He also appeared to rule out including the option of a no deal Brexit on the ballot paper, claiming that it was not a “realistic offer” as it could be “damaging for the country”, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Mr McDonnell’s claims come a week after Labour, alongside Tory rebels, the Lib Dems and Green Party, passed a law aiming at halting a no deal Brexit.
The Bill, which controversially led to the dismissal of more than 20 Tory MPs, received Royal Assent from the Queen on Monday and will force the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit delay if MPs have not approved a new deal, or no deal, by October 19.
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In 2017, Mr McDonnell called for a four-year Brexit transition period.
The Shadow Chancellor let slip the plan during an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme, saying: “We’ve said at least two years, and possibly more.
“I think it will be around about three or fours years, something like that.
“But shall I tell you who we’re listening to?
“We’re listening to business.”
Mr McDonnell’s declaration diverged from formal party policy on the length of the transition period.
Only a month before, Sir Keir Starmer had refused to put any time length on it, saying it should be “as short as possible, but as long as is necessary”.
Mr Starmer said at the time: “It cannot become a kind of never-ending purgatory.
“That would simply create its own uncertainty and ambiguity.”
It was not the first time, senior members of the Labour Party diverged on Brexit issues or changed their mind on how Britain should leave the bloc.
The year before 2016, Mr McDonnell promised to get behind Britain’s exit from the European Union, as he believed it could be “an enormous opportunity” for the country.
The Shadow Chancellor said that Labour would not seek to prevent or delay Brexit, describing those trying to do so as being “on the side of certain corporate elites”.
He told a meeting in central London that Labour “must not try to re-fight the referendum or push for a second vote”.
He said: “If Article 50 needs to be triggered in Parliament, Labour will not seek to block or delay it.
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“To do so would put us against the majority will of the British people and on the side of certain corporate elites, who have always had the British people at the back of the queue.”
In a shift from Labour’s previous support for the EU, McDonnell said he believed the bloc had been run in the interests of big business.
He said: “While Labour supported remaining in the EU to protect workers’ rights, we cannot hide from the fact that too much of the EU also had aspects of the old model, putting the interests of big business over ordinary people.
“Labour accepts the referendum result as the voice of the majority.
“We must embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us.
“It is time we all were more positive about Brexit.”
On Sunday, John McDonnell suggested Labour could resurrect Theresa May’s Brexit deal and pit it against remaining in the EU in a second referendum. The Shadow Chancellor claimed that if Labour won power in a general election, Britons would be given the option of staying in the European club or leaving under a revised version of the deal Mrs May negotiated with the bloc and Parliament rejected three times.
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