The UK Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has intensified the pressure on his boss, Jeremy Corbyn, by emphatically calling for the party to throw its weight behind a second EU referendum.
On Monday, Mr Watson held a keystone speech in front of an audience at the Centre for European Reform, in which he unapologetically declared that “our [Labour’s] hearts are Remain,” and that - mimicking what is fast becoming the mainstream line - another referendum is the only way to break the Brexit stalemate.
Mr Watson pronounced that a second vote on the UK’s future relationship with the EU is “the only tool” to moving Britain forward, saying that, “our members are Remain, our values our remain, our hearts our remain… we need to be loud and proud in support of Europe.”
"I love Europe because I’m a democratic socialist. Socialism is achieving common causes by the strength of collective endeavour. That’s what Europe is. We’ve shied away from saying these things for too long. But now, as we stare down the barrel of a Boris Johnson premiership, we really must," Watson said.
"Our future doesn’t need to be Brexit. We can change the future. We can put Britain back at the heart of Europe again. We can be proud of leading the fight for a fairer and stronger future, together," he also added.
— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) 17 June 2019
Jeremy Corbyn has, to date, refused to wholeheartedly embrace a second referendum, arguing that instead what Britain needs to crack the Westminster deadlock is a general election, from which he believes that the Labour Party will emerge victorious and can subsequently return to Brussels to renegotiate a fresh Brexit agreement.
— Commodity Hunter #MBGA (@BermudaBat) 17 June 2019
— Martin (@StarlingMoss) 17 June 2019
— Alex Deane (@ajcdeane) 17 June 2019
The development also comes amidst reports that Mr Watson’s increasingly loud calls for a second referendum have put him in the firing line of Corbyn loyalists, who have reportedly expressed growing frustration with his deviation from the official party line on Brexit.
Over the past few weeks, discussion has been rife across UK media that some Corbyn advisors close to the leader’s office, including national union bosses, have been pressing for a new deputy leadership contest that could see Mr Watson booted from his seat.
The Guardian very recently quoted an anonymous Labour Party senior source as saying that, “there is talk of petitions going round local parties, particularly to rally support for a deputy leadership contest. This would require more than 50 MPs to back it to get off the ground.”
Moreover, last week, chairman of Labour, Ian Lavery, snapped at those within the party campaigning for a second referendum, branding them as “left wing intellectuals” who were simply “sneering at the ordinary people” by defying the initial 2016 Brexit referendum’s result, in which a majority voted to leave the EU.