According to shadow chancellor John McDonnell, the Labour Party has been “forced” into supporting a second referendum. Speaking with Sky’s "Ridge on Sunday," McDonnell explained, “we said we would respect the referendum but we also said we wouldn’t allow... a reckless deal and we would not support no-deal.” He went on to say “we’ve been forced into this by Theresa May delaying, running down the clock and not coming up with a compromise we can all support.”

A party divided - Labour

With eight Labour MPs splitting off to form the new Independent Group and more rumoured to follow, it’s clear Labour needs to do something to show solidarity and support the people they represent.

Labour has previously been vocal in their unwillingness to support a second referendum as they “made a promise to respect the outcome of the referendum”, however with May announcing her plan to offer a vote on no-deal or a delay to the UK’s withdrawal from Europe, the party also wants to avoid a “catastrophic” withdrawal outcome.

McDonnell has discussed the possibility of seeing MPs ‘whipped’ (forced) to support the party’s policy of supporting a second referendum, but has also considered what this may mean for individual MPs in leave constituencies: “you’ve got to respect people’s views and their constituency… the whipping arrangement will be determined...

in due course.”

In an opposing view, Labour MP Caroline Flint has urged Labour leadership to permit a free vote on the PM’s deal on 12 March, hoping certain conditions such as promises regarding workers’ rights that she and other MPs had been working to secure would be met.

Flint went on to appeal to Labour leadership “to allow MPs a free vote on an improved deal, so those who want a second referendum can vote for that, but those of us who want to keep our promises to our electorate can also keep faith with those people.”

Flint claims she doesn’t just speak for herself in opposing a second referendum, stating she believes “there is something like 60 or 70 Labour MPs...

against a second referendum,” and that, if given a free vote, "would vote for an improved offer" against the alternative options including no-deal, delay of Article 50 or a second referendum.

Similarly, the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey told BBC’s "The Andrew Marr Show" she believes “we have got to leave all options on the table to avoid an economic catastrophe for Britain,” as well as going on to say Labour “are not looking to overturn the result of the referendum.”

She “truly hopes” the party won’t be forced into supporting a second referendum and can successfully push their own Brexit deal or a general election as a way to better uphold Labour’s vision following the 2016 referendum.

The people’s opinion

Despite Labour’s concerns about going against the will of the people, recent studies suggest that in fact, they might be doing just that if they refuse to support a second referendum or People’s Vote. According to new research, 66 per cent of people in the North and Midlands who voted Labour in the last elections have said they are in favour of Labour on their new policy to back a second referendum, with only 21 per cent opposing this shift.

Further to this, 35 per cent stated this change in policy made them feel more favourable towards Labour, with only 14 per cent saying it made them feel less positive and the rest not feeling affected.

Labour voters in the Northeast, Northwest, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands and West Midlands polled by YouGov on behalf of the People’s Vote campaign found Labour voters in areas which voted Leave in 2016 have now changed their minds and more than 3:1 would not back Remain if a second referendum was called.

Furthermore, 69 per cent of people surveyed said they would back Remain in a new referendum rather than support May’s deal. This figure rises to 72 per cent when asked whether they would rather vote Remain or leave with no deal.

Naturally, some MPs are worried that by backing a second referendum they will be going against the will of the people they represent, however Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South which voted Leave by over 60 per cent, articulated “this poll shows why Jeremy Corbyn has done the right thing by our country and our party… Far from suffering in our heartlands if we back a people’s vote, we would have been badly damaged if we had not.”

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