McDonnell: New EU vote could prompt far-right violence

By Greg Heffer, political reporter
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has cautioned a second EU referendum could provoke far-right violence on UK streets - but confirmed Labour is not ruling out support for another public vote.
The Labour frontbencher agreed with recent warnings by fellow shadow cabinet member Barry Gardiner, who claimed a new referendum could give "succour to the extreme right" and prompt social unrest.Highlighting how supporters of ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson clashed with police at recent demonstrations over his imprisonment, Mr McDonnell stressed a need to be "extremely careful".He told the BBC: "A number of us now are worried about the rise of the far-right in this country and elsewhere.
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"What we mustn't do is open up any opportunities for the far-right exploiting this issue."We've already seen violence on our streets from the far-right, when we saw the Tommy Robinson demonstrations and the attacks on the police and others."So, Barry's right to caution how we handle this issue."Labour's leadership is under pressure from a number of MPs and party members to back a referendum on any Brexit deal the government agrees with the EU.
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Mr McDonnell insisted it is "not Labour Party policy to have another referendum", adding: "We respect the past referendum."Yet, he repeated a message from shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer that Labour support for a referendum on a final Brexit deal should be "on the table", even if it is not his favoured option.
Mr McDonnell said: "We recognise, when the government comes forward with its proposals - if it does, I'm worried we might be in a 'no-deal' situation - parliament will decide the next step."So, we're not taking any options off the table when that debate happens.
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"My own view, as I've said consistently, the Labour Party's not opposed to any democratic engagement. I'd prefer a general election."On Friday, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake wrote to Sir Keir offering to work with Labour to secure a referendum on a final Brexit deal.Mr Brake said: "Just last week we had a Labour MP using the spectre of social unrest to dismiss the idea of granting the public a say on the deal, but now there appears to be a change of heart from some at Labour's top table."If that is the case, the Labour Party should come out and say it.
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"They should be straight with the public and use their upcoming conference to back a final say on Brexit."But will Jeremy Corbyn allow it?"
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