NICOLA Sturgeon has criticised Labour’s decision to reinstate its existing policy on a second EU referendum, calling it proof they are a “Brexit-supporting party”.

The policy commits Labour to backing a new vote if no agreement is reached with the Tories on an alternative Brexit deal including a customs union membership, and if there is no General Election.

On Twitter, the First Minister wrote: “Problem is a Labour Brexit, just like a Tory Brexit, will hurt Scotland. So if you want to keep Scotland in Europe, and make sure that our voice is heard, vote @theSNP on 23 May.”

The National:

Labour’s announcement was made just after 5pm last night after a day of talks by the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), to finalise its stance on a second vote ahead of the poll due to take on May 23.

A Labour spokeswoman said: “The NEC agreed the manifesto which will be fully in line with Labour’s existing policy; to support Labour’s

alternative plan, and if we can’t get the necessary changes to the Government’s deal, or a General Election, to back the option of a public vote.”

READ MORE: Brexit: What is a People's Vote and how would a second referendum work?

She added: “Labour is the only party which represents both people who supported Leave and Remain. We are working to bring the country together after the chaos and crisis created by the Tories.”

Former Labour Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw, one of its leading pro-Europeans, believed his party would end up backing a second vote as the two conditions would not materialise.

“1. The Government won’t agree to an “alternative Brexit” & Labour MPs won’t vote for one that isn’t conditional on a #FinalSay public vote, so it won’t happen 2. There won’t be an election cos Tory MPs won’t vote for one. 3. #peoplesvote only thing left. Bingo!,” he tweeted.

The meeting was understood to be stormy with the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who was backing clearer support for second vote.

But arriving for the NEC meeting at Labour HQ in London, figures on both sides of the argument played down expectations of fireworks.

The National:

Watson said: “We always have lively discussions at the National Executive Committee, but I don’t think there will be a row. These are very serious matters.”

And left-leaning committee member Pete Willsman, who has publicly attacked Watson’s position, said: “There’s not going to be no row at all. The word is nuanced.”

Ahead of the NEC meeting, Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson wrote to Corbyn and all NEC members urging them to ensure that a confirmatory ballot is in the manifesto.

“If we don’t do it, the coming years will be divisive because people will be turning round and saying ‘hang on, I didn’t vote for this’.”

A total of 115 MPs and MEPs signed a letter to NEC members organised by the Love Socialism, Hate Brexit group urging them to explicitly back a referendum in the manifesto.

Some of Labour’s biggest union backers also threw their weight behind a referendum pledge.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Frankly it’s time for our party to act on the overwhelming wishes of its members and voters by pledging to support a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal.

“We will be pushing hard for this to be included in Labour’s European manifesto.”

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “Any final Brexit deal must be put to the people for them to decide whether or not it’s acceptable.”

Jeremy Corbyn-backing Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle warned a failure to offer a referendum could scotch his chances of getting to 10 Downing Street.

“Only way JC will be PM is to offer a confirmatory vote – we could be out of power for a generation and the left will be swept away in Labour,” he warned. “This is the fight for the left project and many are committing self harm.”