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VOL. 43 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 26, 2019

Labour divided over whether to back new Brexit referendum

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LONDON (AP) — It's not just the British government that has problems over Brexit. The main opposition Labour Party is agonizing over whether to back a second EU membership referendum in Britain.

The left-of-center party's governing executive was meeting Tuesday to decide what to put in its platform for the European parliamentary election that is taking place in just over just three weeks.

Many Labour members and lawmakers support a new referendum that could reverse voters' 2016 decision to leave the EU. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and key aides fear that would cost Labour votes in pro-Brexit areas.

Labour Deputy leader Tom Watson said "these are very serious matters," but he did not think there would be rancorous argument at Tuesday's meeting.

"We always have lively discussions at the National Executive Committee, but I don't think there will be a row," he said.

The issue is coming to a head because Britain looks set to participate in the May 23-26 elections for the EU parliament that take place in all EU nations. Britain's voting day is May 23.

The U.K. was due to have left the 28-nation bloc by now, but British lawmakers have repeatedly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's divorce deal with the EU.

The bloc has given Britain until Oct. 31 to ratify the Brexit agreement or leave the bloc without a deal to smooth the way. Most economists believe that a no-deal Brexit would plunge Britain into recession as customs checks take effect at U.K. ports and tariffs are imposed on trade between the U.K. and the EU.

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