Could Wanstead MP John Cryer have been one of the influences behind the shift in Labour party policy which means the party is now backing calls for a second referendum on Brexit.
Mr Cryer, who voted Leave and has not changed his position on that, announced on Friday that his position on calls for a People’s Vote had changed. He said he supported an amendment which would mean a vote between two choices: Theresa May’s deal and remaining in the EU – eliminating the possibility of a No Deal Brexit.
Mr Cryer is chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and his shift may have been influential on the party leadership which has been hit by defections of MPs and accusations of failing to deal with anti-semitism.
In a letter to constituents, Mr Cryer wrote:
Those of you who have followed my commentary on the Brexit process are well aware of my feelings about a second referendum, which has been touted by many for some time as the only way to resolve the impasse in Parliament and avoid us crashing out of the EU with no deal.
For those who have not read my sentiments in newsletters, articles and replies to constituents, I have long been concerned about the potential threat to social cohesion posed by a second referendum. The mood in the country is febrile and has been since the original vote. I do worry that the prospect of a second referendum is viewed by many passionate Brexit voters as a “metropolitan plot” to stop Brexit and feeds the deep sense of alienation which provided some of the impetus for people to vote Leave in the first place.
Nevertheless, after unprecedented defeats for the government and no obvious parliamentary majority for any one course of action, it is increasingly difficult to see parliament getting behind a deal. I for one do not wish to be offered an eleventh hour Hobson’s Choice between May’s bad deal and a chaotic No Deal.
An amendment by my Labour colleagues Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson proposes that the PM’s deal should be passed on the proviso that the people of this country get the opportunity thereafter to vote in a “confirmatory” referendum: to accept or reject Mrs May’s deal. I am cautiously and reluctantly minded to support this amendment for want of a preferable alternative. If Mrs May’s deal (with whatever concessions she is able to extract from the EU) is the best this government can muster, let the people be the ones to decide if it beats continued membership of the EU.