MP responds after Conservatives challenge her on Brexit and second referendum

Jo Platt MP
Jo Platt MP

An MP from the borough has come out against a second referendum on Brexit after being told by opposition activists she faced a choice between supporting her party leader or her constituents.


Jo Platt, the Labour representative for Leigh, posted an update on Facebook after an open letter was sent by Richard Short from the Wigan Borough Conservative Federation.

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In it Mr Short noted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's increasing willingness to consider another public vote on Britain's departure from the European Union (EU) and told Ms Platt this would be a "betrayal of trust" as she had always previous opposed a second referendum.

On Wednesday afternoon Bolton West MP Chris Green also sent out a public message slamming Labour for its Brexit position.

However, Ms Platt hit back on social media, saying her lack of support for that move still remained and criticising right-wing politicians in the Conservative Party for trying to use Brexit to bring about a low-wage society with few rights for workers.

She also rejected Mr Short's suggestion she had to choose between Leigh voters who want to Leave and her party, saying she would support Mr Corbyn's Brexit amendment on Wednesday to find a way forward.

Ms Platt said: "I want to make it extremely clear to our constituency which voted to leave the EU in 2016, a decision I have always sought to respect, that I am resolute in my determination to ensure whatever deal is agreed between the EU and the UK works for our towns and provides the blueprint for growth and prosperity in our area, and is not a catalyst for the bargain-basement economy with a race to the bottom on rights and standards that many in the right of the Conservative Party desire.

"During my election in 2017, I made a sincere promise to respect the decision of over 63 per cent of the Leigh constituency to leave the European Union. I also pledged to fight for a deal that would limit the economic and social impact that leaving an institution that the UK has been a member of for 43 years would have.

"That is why I will be supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment later today which sets out the five key changes I want to see to the current deal before we could countenance supporting it. This amendment sets out our sensible Brexit vision which respects our manifesto commitment in 2017 to back a Brexit deal that works for all our communities.

"These changes are based on the tests we set out nearly 2 years ago and would provide for a new and secure trading relationship with the EU to protect jobs and businesses, it would protect rights and protections and also maintain a strong security relationship with the EU.

"Under the current circumstances I would vote against any proposals for a second referendum and I hope that MPs from both sides of the House recognise the need to for us to come together and back a deal in the national interest."

Ms Platt also repeated her complete opposition to a no-deal Brexit, saying it would be hugely damaging to Leigh, and urged anyone to come forward and share their views on leaving the EU with her.

The response came after Mr Short said voters in Leigh deserved to know where their MP stands as Labour's position on Brexit appears to be shifting.

In his letter he said to Ms Platt: "Earlier this week the leader of your party confirmed that they would support a second referendum on the UK’s exit from the EU.

"Whatever your personal view, the Leigh constituency voted overwhelmingly to leave. In fact, more people in the constituency voted to leave the EU than voted for you to be the MP.

"It’s disturbing to anyone who respects democratic choice that your leader has chosen to reject the choice of thousands of your constituents.

"As recently as January 15 you were clear on your own website that the referendum and the choice of your constituents must be respected. It would be a betrayal of trust if you were now to reverse this, support Jeremy Corbyn and turn your back on your constituents by rejecting the referendum result they delivered."

Labour was also criticised by Bolton West MP Chris Green, whose constituency includes Atherton, who called Mr Corbyn "out of touch" with people in the area over Brexit.

Mr Green said: "Labour politicians demanding an extension to Article 50 or a second referendum are not being honest with the voters. They should say what they really want which is to ignore democracy and just stop Brexit from happening.”