Keir Starmer has urged Labour MPs to stop thinking how to “rub out” Brexit and instead focus on how to get the best deal for Britain outside the EU.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on Monday night, the Shadow Brexit Secretary said that a second EU referendum couldn’t be held until 2021 at the earliest and even then would face “obvious” practical problems.

In what was seen by MPs as a hardening of his stance on a second vote, HuffPost can reveal that Starmer warned that Nigel Farage was probably backing a re-run because he thought Vote Leave would win again.

His remarks follow weeks of mixed messages from Labour over a new referendum, with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott appearing to tell constituents she wanted one only to insist she had been misunderstood.

Tony Blair said earlier this month that the country should have a chance to ‘think again’ about membership of the EU, either through a general election or new referendum.

Starmer was treated ‘respectfully’ by MPs as he updated them on Labour’s plans to vote against the EU (Withdrawal) Bill’s Third Reading due this week in the Commons.

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