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Labour Has (Eventually) Ruled Out A Second Referendum On Brexit

A messaging screw-up overshadowed the launch of the opposition's election campaign.

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Labour doesn't support a second referendum on Britain's relationship with the European Union, a spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said this afternoon.

The leader's position hadn't been that clear earlier in the day.

Earlier, Corbyn had not ruled out putting the terms of an exit deal to a national vote when asked point-blank by journalists after the launch of his election campaign in Westminster.

Journalists also tried to pin down John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor, about whether the party would support a second referendum – and didn't get a clear answer.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell refused to rule out offering a second referendum. McDonnell asked at least 10 times.

That prompted claims from the Conservatives that Labour was planning to disrupt Brexit. "This can only mean more uncertainty for Britain, more risk and a future that is less secure," said Patrick McLoughlin, the Tory party chairman.

The story ran for several hours.

I asked Jeremy Corbyn's spokesman if Labour can categorically rule out a second Brexit referendum. Just had this re… https://t.co/rfDQeo7CIc

Then in the afternoon, Corbyn's office issued a statement definitively ruling out support for a second vote.

"A second referendum is not our policy and it won't be in our manifesto," Corbyn's spokesperson said.

Confusingly, though, at around the same time McDonnell was still refusing to rule out another vote, according to reporters.

McDonnell again does not rule out a second EU referendum while on the stump on Luton

Were the party's leadership not on the same page? McDonnell's spokesperson didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.

Alex Spence is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alex Spence at alex.spence@buzzfeed.com.

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