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North East Labour MPs call 'people's vote' over Brexit deal

Picture by PA
Picture by PA

A group of Labour backbenchers have become the latest to break ranks with party policy by suggesting a second Brexit referendum.

Five MPs from constituencies in the North East have called for a "people's vote" on the outcome of the Government's negotiations with the European Union.

Writing in the Independent, Phil Wilson (Sedgefield), Paul Williams (Stockton South), Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South), Anna Turley (Redcar) and Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle North) warn that the region risks losing its status as an "export powerhouse" if Britain leaves the customs union and the single market.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that the UK will leave both institutions and last month former leadership candidate Owen Smith was sacked as shadow Northern Ireland secretary for backing a second referendum.

The quintet wrote that they understand why people voted for Brexit in 2016 but they did so "without knowing in reality what the final Brexit deal would look like".

They wrote: "How do we decide if the deal we are offered on Brexit is the right one for the Northeast?

"Will it be good enough for the exporters who provide so many of the jobs on which our regional economy depends?

"Companies such as Nissan in Sunderland, Hitachi in County Durham and those in the chemical processing industry on Teesside provide thousands of jobs and see their future as part of the EU customs union and single market.

"We would hate to see the growth and employment opportunities they offer be undermined by a bad deal."

The group's comments echoed those made by fellow Labour MP Gareth Thomas earlier on Wednesday.

The Harrow West MP told the Commons that "the terms on which we leave and Britain's future relationship with the EU were never clearly defined or put to the public in 2016".

On Tuesday night 83 Labour peers rebelled against orders to abstain from an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords.

Instead the peers - and 17 rebel Tories - backed retaining key aspects of the single market by continued participation in the European Economic Area (EEA) by 247 to 218, a majority of 29.