The Labour Party must back a second referendum on Brexit in order to defeat Nigel Farage’s “backward-looking brand of politics”, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has said.
Encouraging fellow party members to stop “being mealy-mouthed”, Mr Watson said it was time to take advantage of an opportunity for Labour to “show real leadership” over Brexit.
The shadow culture secretary’s intervention comes several days after a YouGov poll revealed Mr Farage’s Brexit party was leading public opinion for next month’s European Parliament elections.
“We won’t win if we sit on the fence about the most crucial issue that has faced our country for a generation,” Mr Watson wrote in the Observer.
Admitting he was “a bit of a latecomer” to the notion of a people’s vote, Mr Watson said he now believes it is time for a “confirmatory referendum”, as voters “deserve better” than the former UKIP leader’s Brexit promises “that would solve nothing”.
The op-ed piece, which was published on Saturday evening, sparked a heated back and forth on Twitter between the two politicians, who both vowed to expose the other’s “lies”.
Mr Farage started the exchange, says a second referendum would be a “total insult” to millions of pro-Brexit Labour supporters.
He added: “I now intend to wholeheartedly target Labour lies and dishonesty in the week ahead.”
In response, Mr Watson said his opponent offered “divisive opposition not responsible leadership.”
“I will take no lessons in lies and dishonesty from Nigel Farage,” he said.