Labour MPs are warning the party must make its Brexit position clear before the next general election or risk losing support.
Jeremy Corbyn is pushing the idea that a government under his leadership would reach a deal with Brussels within three months and put that to the people.
But Labours stance in that referendum would only be decided at a special conference after the general election – despite scores of motions at its party conference as well as high-profile MPs calling on the party to back remain.
Their fear is Jeremy Corbins policy statement to the National Executive Committee, which has yet to be signed off, could shut down any debate on the matter.
At the start of the conference in Brighton, Shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis said: This move is just plain wrong. How can this be defended?
We, the left, took over the leadership of this party promising internal democracy, promising a new kind of politics.
And yet here we are, with a leadership apparently determined to shut down democratic debate on the crucial issue of the day, probably relying on union bloc votes to outvote the members.
Its not what we signed up for. We now need to rally on the conference floor – if it passes, delegates should mobilise to vote against the NEC statement so the Brexit motions can be heard and democratically debated.
Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: We are being hammered on the doorstep because our Brexit position is a fudge.
Yes, its great that we are putting forward a public vote and a remain option.
But in every seat in the country, leave and remain, we are losing votes because our voters are turning to remain parties.
This conference is our one chance before an election to get out of the fudge – we cannot allow that to be taken away from us in some procedural stitch-up.
Former leadership contender Owen Smith said: Is the NEC seriously saying that Labour should go into a general election saying well have another referendum on Brexit, but were not telling the electorate which way well vote in that referendum?
That would be the antithesis of honest politics.
Michael Chessum, national organiser for the Another Europe is Possible campaign group, said: Introducing an NEC statement in this manner would be a bare-faced attempt to shut down a democratic debate on Brexit at conference.
The idea that Labour would not take a position now, and put it off to a special conference just after an election, is absurd.
We have a conference, right here and right now, which has had a huge wave of grassroots motions submitted to it on Brexit.
The draft NEC statement said: After three years of shambolic Tory negotiations and parliamentary deadlock, a Labour government will get Brexit sorted one way or another within six months of coming to power, allowing us to concentrate on all the issues that matter to people most.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, speaking at a Peoples Vote rally in Brighton, said a second referendum was the only way out the impasse and he would support remaining in the EU.
I have to admit that a year or so ago I wasnt sure that a referendum was the right way out – but now Im utterly convinced its the only way out.
Weve been trying in parliament to sort this out, weve had three years where weve tried to sort this ouRead More – Source