DARLINGTON MP Jenny Chapman has reluctantly concluded that a second referendum may be the only way out of the Brexit impasse.

Ms Chapman, who as Labour’s shadow Brexit minister was doing global media interviews today explaining the party’s position, said: “I hate the idea of a referendum.

“It would be a corrosive, deeply divisive, hate-filled process which would damage our politics. I hope we don’t need to do it, but if it is a referendum or no deal, I reluctantly back a referendum.”

Labour will tomorrow again table its proposal of a deal that would keep the UK within a “comprehensive customs union” with the EU and in “close alignment” with the single market while enshrining workers’ rights end environmental protections. However, with Conservative MPs ordered to vote against it, Labour’s plans seem highly unlikely to pass.

And with Prime Minister Theresa May also struggling to get her deal through, with or without the extension she appeared to promise today, Labour fears Britain is heading for a no-deal exit.

“I don’t like any of the options, but I cannot stand back and let us leave without a deal,” said Ms Chapman.

“Under no-deal, our ability to trade would be wrecked, and our borders wouldn’t function as we don’t have the infrastructure, the IT or the staff – and we are potentially just five weeks away from it.

“Government support for the economy in the event of no-deal would be incredibly expensive – and we should be spending that money on public services, and it won’t compensate those who lose their jobs.

“The Government should listen to manufacturing companies like Cummins or the Teesside chemical industry who say they need to trade as they do now – and that’s what people who voted leave were promised.

“I don’t think those who voted leave did so on the basis that we would have no trade – they were told that doing a deal would be the easiest thing in human history and that these problems would be ironed out before we left.

“I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for a referendum. I cannot tell you how little I want a referendum. I see lots of pitfalls with it but it is the least worst option if the only other option is no-deal.”

Ms Chapman’s lack of enthusiasm is in stark contrast to her Labour neighbour in Sedgefield, Phil Wilson, who, as The Northern Echo told today, is championing a “people’s vote”.

“I disagree with him about the desirability of another referendum, but I respect that he’s trying to be constructive and find a way through,” she said.

She said that the most likely question on the ballot paper would be a choice between Mrs May’s deal and remaining in the EU.

“The people of Darlington do not agree among themselves,” she said. “Some have changed their minds in both directions. I have had a mixed response in the last few days on Facebook and a wide variety of suggestions via email.

“The overwhelming view is that they want to get this done so we can move on to other pressing issues – they are very frustrated that we are still arguing about Brexit, and I agree with that. The deal we are voting on now is about the divorce – the real arguments about our future relationship will begin in earnest after this. This is just the warm-up.

“I cannot wait for this to be over so I can get on with what I came into politics to do.”