The Shadow Brexit Secretary said the party was now only pursuing two alternatives – a compromise deal based on proposals contained in a letter from Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa May last week, or a second referendum.
But he was slapped down by Jeremy Corbyn’s office, which insisted pressing for an early election remained the party’s “preferred option”.
A trio of shadow cabinet members piled pressure on Jeremy Corbyn by saying the party must stick by its pledge to “campaign for a public vote” if the prime minister holds firm and Labour fails to force a general election.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said backing for a Final Say referendum was the only “remaining option” if Labour’s own withdrawal plan is defeated, adding: “That is a very important commitment. And it is one we will keep.”
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, echoed the view, saying: “If she refuses a general election and to change her deal, then of course our policy is that we will go for a people’s vote.”
And Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, speaking at the same conference, told a questioner urging quicker support for a referendum: “I am tempted to go there with you.”
MPs voted 308 to 297 for an amendment tabled by Tory MP Dominic Grieve which piles pressure on the Government to act fast to prevent a no-deal Brexit in the worst case scenario.
But the amendment prompted a furious row in the Commons, with pro-Brexit MPs suggesting Speaker John Bercow was biased towards Remain after he selected it for a vote.