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US NewsUnion chiefs agree Labour should back Remain

21:35  08 july  2019
21:35  08 july  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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Union chiefs agree Labour should back Remain © Sky News Screen Grab Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has agreed to the Brexit position Labour-affiliated trade unions have agreed the party should campaign for a second EU referendum and support Remain if a new Tory PM negotiates a fresh Brexit deal.

Labour should also campaign for another public vote - and support staying in the EU - if the UK is set for a no-deal Brexit, union leaders unanimously decided at a meeting.

The discussions also saw an agreement that, in the event of a general election, Labour's manifesto should include a promise to negotiate their own Brexit deal with the EU.

This should then be put to a referendum, with a choice between Labour's deal and remaining in the EU.

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Labour's position in this scenario would depend on the deal the party negotiated, the union chiefs agreed, leaving open the possibility of Labour campaigning against a deal it concluded with the EU.

As he left the talks in central London on Monday, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the union bosses would now report back to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"It was a good meeting," said Mr McCluskey, an longtime ally of the Labour leader.

The unions' agreement does not automatically alter Labour's position, but is likely to be influential with Mr Corbyn under increasing pressure to move the party towards an explicitly pro-Remain stance.

Union chiefs agree Labour should back Remain © PA Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to adopt an explicitly pro-Remain position A Labour source said: "Jeremy Corbyn has been working to unite the party and wider labour movement around a common agreed position."

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Mr McCluskey's previous scepticism towards a second EU referendum had been viewed as one of the major obstacles preventing Mr Corbyn adopting a position wholeheartedly in favour of fresh public vote.

Last year, the Unite boss claimed a new referendum would risk "tearing our society further apart" and should not be "the first choice or the preferred option" for Labour supporters.

Labour MP Hilary Benn, the chair of the House of Commons' Brexit committee, told Sky News: "This is, I think, a very significant development because Labour urgently needs to clarify its policy.

"We saw what happened in the European elections, we got 14% of the vote and the public didn't understand what our position was.

"Therefore I think it's really important that we now say Labour supports going back to the people in a referendum in which the deal, whatever it is, is put as one option - because that's what leaving would look like.

"And, on the other hand, you would have an option to Remain in case the British people have changed their mind, or not.

"We're over three years on from the [2016] referendum now."

On Sunday, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell pressured Mr Corbyn to adopt a pro-Remain position "sooner rather than later".

Prominent Remainer and Labour peer Lord Adonis, one of the party's candidates in the recent EU elections, described the unions' agreement as "hugely important to the defeat of Brexit".

But he added the union bosses' preferred position for Labour to take at a general election was "total unicorn territory".

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