Owen Smith Promises Second EU Referendum If Labour Leader

Owen Smith Labour Leadership
Owen Smith makes a speech in Manchester, Northwest England, on September 22, 2014. Smith is launching a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. LEON NEAL,LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Owen Smith, one of the contenders for the Labour leadership, will offer a second referendum on EU membership if he wins the race.

The Pontypridd MP and former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said in an interview with The Guardian that the British electorate should be allowed a say after a new deal with the EU was struck. He argued: "Then we should give them another chance. That does mean a second referendum or a general election when the terms are clear. The Labour government should be committing to that."

"What is Labour's role in this? Our role is to be sensible and mature about this and put our foot on the ball for the British public and say what do the terms actually look like," he added.

The leadership race was triggered by a challenge to leader Jeremy Corbyn from former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle, which came after mass resignations from Corbyn's top team and a no confidence vote in his leadership.

Eagle had hoped to run as a "unity candidate," winning votes from every wing of the party that did not agree with Corbyn's leadership. However, Smith's entry into the race on Wednesday scuppered that ambition. Smith, who only entered parliament in 2010 compared to Eagle's arrival in 1992 and Corbyn's in 1983, said: "I think we need the next generation of Labour men and women to step up and put our stamp on this party."

And he tried to position himself as left of Eagle, saying she was "supported by a lot of people who are further right on the spectrum of the Labour party than I am."

Smith said Corbyn had led the party to the brink of disaster.

"The vast majority of Labour members and Labour members of parliament have been sitting, like in the back seat of a car, as we are careering towards a cliff and someone has got to wrest the steering wheel off the people who are causing this problem," he said.