Published On: Tue, Jul 9th, 2019

Brexit news: Portillo dismantles Labour’s ‘suicidal’ position on Brexit in rant | UK | News

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn threw down the gauntlet on Tuesday and challenged the winner of the Tory leadership contest to put their Brexit plan to a second referendum. Mr Corbyn also announced Labour would back Remain in the event of a second Brexit referendum. Former Tory MP Michael Portillo ridiculed Labour’s decision to back Remain and warned it will cause “enormous damage” to the party.

Speaking on BBC This Week, Mr Portillo said: “It seems to me to be mad for the Labour Party to take up that position when we may shortly leave the European Union.

“Once we have left the European Union, I mean really, not even the Labour Party is going to say ‘oh, well I think we ought to jump back into it’.

“I agree that it is not going to happen on October 31 but I think there is a pretty good chance it might happen by the end of the year.

“For Labour in the short term to get itself stuck as both the Remain party and the second referendum party seems to be likely to do it an enormous amount of damage and to render it completely irrelevant.”

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Mr Portillo, who originally voted to Remain in the June 2016 referendum but now backs Leave, continued to dismantle Labour’s Brexit position.

He added: “If Brexit happens then I think the Brexit Party vote is extremely vulnerable. Why on earth would you be voting for the Brexit Party if we have Brexited?

“Now, then all those votes get redistributed and then you have a real game on.

“So for all those reasons, I don’t understand these people in the Labour Party who are calling for the party to put itself in a ludicrous suicidal and particularly unnecessary position.”

The Labour leader confirmed his party would commit to the policy once Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt become the UK’s next Prime Minister.

In a letter to party members, Mr Corbyn wrote: “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.”

The announcement was welcomed by Tom Watson, the Labour Party’s deputy leader, who claimed “Remain is who we are”.

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Brexit news: Portillo dismantles Labour’s ‘suicidal’ position on Brexit in rant | UK | News