A group of British lawmakers yesterday appealed to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to back a second referendum on Brexit, saying they did not have enough support in parliament to persuade the government to stage such a vote.
Parliament is in deadlock over Britain's departure from the European Union after resoundingly rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May's plan last week, throwing up several outcomes, including leaving without a deal or a second referendum.
May has ruled out staging a second vote, saying parliament should respect the 2016 referendum when 52 percent of Britain voted to leave the EU. Corbyn also does not support a second referendum but says the option should remain on the table.
Supporters of a second referendum say it is the only way to break the deadlock in parliament by asking for the people to decide.
"The clock is ticking and at this late stage, I appeal to Jeremy Corbyn to do the right thing by the majority of our voters, our supporters and members and back a people's vote," Labour lawmaker Luciana Berger said.
Conservative lawmaker Sarah Wollaston said they could only force through a plan for a second vote if Corbyn supported such a move in the 650-seat lower house of parliament.
"Without the unequivocal backing of the Labour leadership at the moment we would not have the numbers," she said.
Meanwhile, European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that the "backstop" provision in the agreement for Britain's withdrawal from the bloc could not be time-limited, since that would defeat its purpose of guaranteeing no hard Irish border.
His comments, made on Germany's DLF public radio, undermine the hopes of some in London that May could win pro-Brexit legislators for her deal by securing a time limit to the no-border commitment.
Barnier said the withdrawal agreement, roundly rejected by Britain's parliament two weeks ago, was the best one available given the "famous red lines", including an end to freedom of movement and to single market membership, that May had set out to define the future relationship.
Barnier, who was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks in Berlin yesterday, said that the commitment, seen by Dublin as an essential guarantor of peace on the island, had to be credible.