British MPs will vote Thursday on whether to call a second EU referendum to break the Brexit deadlock, but supporters said now is not the time to press the issue.
Just 16 days before Britain is due to leave the EU, Britain has yet to agree a plan on how to leave and parliament is voting later to ask Brussels for a delay.
An amendment to this motion calls for a delay so that Britain can hold a second referendum on membership, with an option to stay in the EU.
The main opposition Labour party in principle supports the idea of a new public vote, but said it would not support the amendment and is asking its MPs to abstain from the non-binding vote.
This position was backed by campaign groups.
“We do not think today is the right time to test the will of the House on the case for a new public vote,” said a spokesman for the People’s Vote campaign.
“Instead, this is the time for parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.”
The decision sparked some anger among pro-European MPs, who have long feared the Labour leadership’s support for a second vote was political posturing.
“Labour frontbench won’t support a #PeoplesVote. Long suspected, now confirmed,” tweeted Chris Leslie, an MP who quit Labour to form an independent grouping last month.
Some Labour MPs said they would still vote for the plan.
“Sometimes politics can be messy but I always think it’s better to try and be straightforward. I support a #PeoplesVote and I will be voting for a #PeoplesVote tonight,” tweeted London MP Siobhain McDonagh.