The shadow chancellor said another Brexit referendum would cause further divisions and described another general election as a “better route”.
John McDonnell told Peston on Sunday that he would rather have another general election than a second EU referendum which could cause further divisions if parliament decides not to take Theresa May’s deal on exiting the EU.
Last month, Labour Leader insisted that he was not calling for a new national poll on withdrawal but sidestepped questions on whether he could change his stance in the future.
“We are not supporting or calling for a second referendum. What we have called for is a meaningful vote in Parliament.” Jeremy Corbyn told Peston.
The shadow chancellor warned that such a move would “divide the country again”, adding “those divisions are really still there”.
Mr McDonnell said he was concerned about prompting right-wing xenophobia. When asked whether Labour would rule out a second referendum, he replied: “We’d never turn our back on democratic engagement.”
“I think better we have a general election. Better we have a general election. On the issue and all the other issues, because you then have a wider debate as well.” he added.
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) February 11, 2018
Emily Thornberry, Shadow foreign secretary told The Andrew Marr Show last month that if 90 per cent of the population wanted to remain in the EU then that would be a “challenge for all ‘democrats”.
“But, at the moment, and as things currently stand, we proceed in good faith, we do as we are instructed and we are leaving the European Union.” She added: “We have said that we must respect the result of the referendum which means that we have to leave, but we have to look after the economy which, in my view, means that we don’t go very far.”