'Jeremy Corbyn faces up to 10 resignations from the Labour frontbench if he fails to throw his party’s weight behind a fresh attempt to force Theresa May to submit her Brexit deal to a referendum in a fortnight’s time, frustrated MPs are warning.
With tension mounting among anti-Brexit Labour MPs and grassroots members, several junior shadow ministers have told the Guardian they are prepared to resign their posts if Corbyn doesn’t whip his MPs to vote for a pro-referendum amendment at the end of the month.
Corbyn has been struggling to balance the conflicting forces in his party over Brexit, as the clock ticks down towards exit day on 29 March.
Many party members and MPs would like him to take a lead in seeking to block Brexit before time runs out – but some frontbenchers are equally adamant they could never support a referendum.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union and a close ally of Corbyn, risked stoking the conflict in the party on Wednesday when he argued that stopping Brexit was “not the best option for our nation”.
“My view is that, having had a 2016 referendum where the people have voted to come out of the EU, to try and deflect away from that threatens the whole democratic fabric on which we operate,” he told Peston on ITV. “I’m saying that in reality it is not the best option for our nation.”
The party’s conference policy, thrashed out in a late-night meeting chaired by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, suggests that if it has failed to secure a general election “Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.'
Read more: Labour MPs warn Corbyn: back a second referendum or we quit
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