London’s Khan Calls for Cancelling Brexit, Labour to Back Remain

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks at a rally in favour of remaining in the EU in central london on June 22, 2016. European leaders warned Britain that a decision to leave the EU was irreversible, as the rival camps made a last-ditch push for votes on the eve of a …
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty

London’s left-wing mayor Sadiq Khan has said the Labour Party should back revoking Article 50, cancelling Brexit.

“We’re a Remain party,” Mr Khan said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, claiming that once Article 50 is revoked, it could be “re-served” at a later date when negotiations with the EU are over — and after the British people are forced to vote again in a referendum on the proposed deal, with remaining in the EU as an option on the ballot paper.

Reiterating Labour’s position, Mr Khan said: “I am quite clear we are a Remain party. We should give the British public a final say. Now that we know the terms of exiting from the EU, that should be one of the options on the ballot paper, with the other option of staying in the EU.”

The remarks represent a departure from official Labour Party policy, which is to back a second referendum and campaigning for Remain, but not revoking Article 50. The Labour politician, who has presided over a rise in crime in London since becoming mayor, continued that “in my view, the best option is to Remain in the EU. As a party we should campaign for [Remain]” once Article 50 is revoked.

The comments came after Tom Watson called on Labour to be “unambiguously and unequivocally backing Remain” in a second referendum, further distancing the party from its 2017 manifesto pledge to respect the result of the first and authoritative referendum, the decision of which has still not yet been delivered.

The leftist parties have been moving closer to demanding Brexit be stopped altogether, with the Liberal Democrats pledging to revoke Article 50 and Remain in the EU, rejecting the original ‘People’s Vote’ — the 2016 referendum — entirely. The party members overwhelmingly voted to back the position, with party leader Jo Swinson saying the party would cancel Brexit if it wins an election with a majority government, confirming that before an election, they would continue to campaign to stop a no deal Brexit and hold a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper.

The Liberal Democrats remain a third-party group in what has been hitherto traditionally a two-party political system, making it highly unlikely there being a Lib Dem government as a result of a snap election. However, the two-party system is under strain with the emergence of the Brexit Party, which threatens to take votes from the right who traditionally voted Conservative and Labour Leavers; the Liberal Democrats have also absorbed into their party a number of Europhile former Tory MPs, including Sarah Wollaston, and former Labour MPs such as Chuka Umunna.

In the event of a snap election and if the Tories fail to agree an alliance of the Brexit-right with the Brexit Party, the Liberal Democrats may again become the kingmakers — as they did in 2010 with their Tory-Lib-Dem coalition — offering support to Labour in exchange for a harder anti-Brexit line.  It would not be the first time that Labour has changed its position on Brexit, having pledged to respect the decision of the vote before announcing its support for a second referendum and backing Remain in July.

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