The Labour Party on Monday refused to say whether it believes MPs should be given a vote on taking Britain out of the European Union.
As the government begins its Supreme Court appeal against a parliamentary vote on triggering Article 50, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told Sky News that Labour was not supporting either side of the argument.
“We’re not on any side,” she said.
“We respect the referendum vote and we will not seek to reverse it.”
Asked what Labour’s view was on the landmark case, she replied:
“We don’t take a view. We are just saying what we will do if it does go to Parliament. We will just try to act in the interests of the British people.”
A spokesperson for the Labour leader declined to comment on whether the party believed there should be a vote on the issue.
However, a senior Labour source confirmed to Business Insider that Abbott’s position was in line with the party’s official position.
Abbott’s comments are the latest in a series of interventions by leading Labour figures which have shifted the party away from an explicit anti-Brexit stance.
At a speech last month, shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested that Brexit would be a “great opportunity” for Britain.
McDonnell said the party needed to be more”positive” about Brexit, adding that any attempt to block it would put Labour “on the side of certain corporate elites who have always had the British people at the back of the queue.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday that the party would seek to amend any government bill on triggering Article 50 if the Supreme Court gives MPs a vote.
However, Labour sources confirmed to Business Insider that the party would not seek to block Article 50 under any circumstances, even if Corbyn’s amendment fails.
The government today accused Labour of trying to “frustrate” and “slow down” Brexit.
“[Labour are] seeming to make clear that they want to frustrate the will of the British people by slowing down the process of leaving and trying to tie the government’s hands in this negotiation,” the prime minister’s spokesperson told the parliamentary lobby.
They insisted that they remain ‘confident’ of overturning the High Court’s decision on Article 50.
“We believe there is clear case that we have the legal power to trigger Article 50,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson added.
“We’re confident of our case and it is one that the Attorney General will be making in the Supreme Court today.”
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