Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith faces backlash after threatening to block Brexit and demanding the public ‘thinks again’

  • Owen Smith sparks furious backlash by threatening to block Brexit
  • Says a second referendum or general election should be held
  • Public should ‘think again’ and ‘didn’t know what they were voting for’

Owen Smith has sparked a furious backlash after insisting the public should ‘think again’ about Brexit.

The Labour leadership hopeful warned he will use parliament to try to block us from leaving the EU if he takes charge of the party.

He said he would demand that Theresa May calls another referendum or general election before sealing a deal because people ‘did not know what they were voting for’.

The astonishing intervention – which was branded a ‘snub’ to Labour Brexit supporters and ‘electoral suicide’ – came as he seeks to wrestle the party’s leadership away from Jeremy Corbyn.

Owen Smith is trying to wrestle the Labour leadership away from Jeremy Corbyn

Veteran left-winger Mr Corbyn has been heavily criticised by Labour moderates for his half-hearted campaigning during the referendum campaign.

He also provoked anger by calling for the immediate triggering of Article 50 in the aftermath of the historic vote.

Mr Smith significantly hardened his line on a fresh referendum in his comments today.

‘I’m saying that we didn’t know exactly what we were voting on. We were fibbed to about the extra money to the NHS, we were fibbed to that there we were going to be getting easy answers to immigration,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘We could put it back to the country as a second referendum or a general election. I fundamentally believe that Jeremy didn’t fight hard enough. That we should stay in Europe.

‘I think we can ask the question at the end of this – is Britain going to be better off or worse off as a result of Brexit?

‘I absolutely still believe that Britain is still better off in Europe and so do 70 per cent of Labour members.’

But Mr Smith was accused of arrogance for ignoring the views of millions of Labour voters who supported Brexit.

John Mills, a major donor and chair of the Labour Leave group, said: ‘It is time for the Labour Party to put behind itself the divisions of the past and accept the result of the vote.

‘Rather than fighting old battles, the Labour Party should now engage productively with the EU renegotiation process to make sure that the UK Government secures the best possible deal for the working people of this country.’

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ‘It is a direct snub to Labour voters. We would not have won the referendum without the support of a very large number of Labour voters, particularly in the north of England. Rather than listen to them he is now basically saying they are wrong.’

The process for leaving the EU is governed by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Ministers believe they can trigger Article 50 without a vote in parliament.

But they face a High Court challenge from campaigners claiming the move cannot be made without the approval of MPs. Of the 650 MPs, 479 campaigned for Remain.

Mr Smith said that under his leadership, Labour would vote to block any attempt to invoke Article 50 until the public ‘have a say on whatever exit deal the Tories strike with the EU’.

Owen Smith said the public did not know what they were voting for and should 'think again'

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Stephen Tayler
Stephen Tayler

As voting has now begun, The Deadline for voting is the 21st of September. Smith is an exceptionally silly man insulting the intelligence of the people who voted to leave the EU. Most of whom based their decision to leave on the facts the media avoided mentioning, meaning they had to do their own research unhindered by the British media. I have already voted in the leadership election, but not for him. It was no contest. I don’t really think he has ever intended to win anyway. just trying to destroy the labour party. Does Smith still have links with… Read more »

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