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Labour's conference '360'

Laura Kuenssberg
Political editor
@bbclaurakon Twitter

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  • Brexit
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We have just witnessed a classic conference '360'.

It's a row in these heady days where one major player in the bubble promises something, then a rival says something rather different.

Then, whoops, fearing a story about splits and dissent within a matter of hours, there is what is officially called a "clarification" - in other words one of those involved in the clash eats their words.

  • Labour keeps option of fresh Brexit vote

As we reported last night, before midnight, Labour delegates agreed there would be a compromise to hold out the possibility of having another referendum.

It was difficult to decide because the party leadership is conscious of not hacking off millions of Labour voters who want to leave, but also have to try to keep the membership - who, if they had a choice, would probably stop Brexit dead in its tracks tomorrow - happy.

That's why there was so much discussion last night over the wording. But by midnight, allies of Keir Starmer and the Labour elements in the campaign for another vote were content.

Not only did they have the idea on the agenda, but they had been able to keep the promise vague enough that if the circumstances emerge, there could be another referendum with, crucially, the option of staying in the EU on the ballot.

But at 7:30am the shadow chancellor piled in telling the BBC that it was important to "respect the referendum", explaining that in his view another public vote should be on the terms of the deal.

Was he trying to kill off the idea of another vote on stay or leave? It seemed that way. Then Tom Watson, who had been part of the push to change the policy, didn't quite agree with him.

He told me a couple of hours later there was an "inevitable logic" to in or out being part of this hypothetical vote. Then Keir Starmer, who was in the room for all of those hours, came striding across the conference plaza to make absolutely clear that deliberately, and explicitly, the agreement in the room was to leave the option of holding another EU referendum on staying in or leaving on the table (in the end).

Then lo and behold, perhaps thinking of the headlines his own dramatic speech this afternoon might generate, John McDonnell popped up again, to say that after all, guess what, "all options", including a vote, perhaps, one day, to stay in the EU, are after all still on the table.

So, as you were.

The 360 is complete. Labour is still inching towards the possibility of a second public vote that might include staying in the European Union.

But the reluctance of Jeremy Corbyn's close allies seems clear. Conference will vote for the promise of that possibility, but that's a long way from vowing the party would make it happen.

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