might expect labour to go for straight ‘remain’ at conference next weekend

Over 60 local parties vote to send anti-Brexit motions to conference
Sienna Rodgers, Labour List, Sep 15 2019

At least 61 Constituency Labour Parties have voted to send anti-Brexit motions to party conference this year, according to campaign group Another Europe is Possible, which worked with Open Labour and Labour for a Socialist Europe to promote a drafted proposal. The final version of the model motion distributed by those organisations, titled “Stop Brexit, Transform Britain and Europe,” would see Labour commit to campaigning “energetically for a public vote and to Remain” and to “revoking Article 50 if necessary to prevent no deal.” Labour’s Brexit policy currently stops short of advocating a Remain position in the referendum that it has promised to hold if in government after the next general election. It also plans to renegotiate Theresa May’s Brexit deal to offer an improved one to the public. Tom Watson and many other Labour MPs say the party should have a clear position on whether it would back Remain or its own Leave option before the likely early election. It is argued by critics that the current policy is unclear. Some Labour Remainers also want the party to abandon its intention to renegotiate May’s deal. National organiser for AEIP Michael Chessum said:

The public wants this to be over. Any sense that we are going to engage in a lengthy renegotiation will be deeply unpopular.

But affiliated trade unions have collectively decided that Labour’s stance should be dependent on the quality of its own negotiated deal. The plan, termed ‘TULO 2’, was agreed at a crunch meeting in July and reconfirmed at TUC congress earlier this week. The possibility that the Labour leadership could remain neutral in the proposed referendum, or allow everyone including front-benchers to choose a side freely as in 1975, has not yet been excluded. However, this could all change at Labour conference, being held in Brighton from Saturday Sep 21 to Wednesday Sep 25. The final decision will likely be made at a composite meeting attended by party and union delegates, and chaired by Keir Starmer. Shadow cabinet members Starmer, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry have all said that they would endorse Remain in a fresh EU referendum. The Love Socialism group of MPs, which includes shadow ministers such as Clive Lewis, have also organised to apply pressure on the leadership. Last year, over a hundred anti-Brexit motions were sent to conference, which produced the composite motion that dominated rows for months afterwards. It pledged that Labour would “support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote,” but only if it couldn’t secure an early election. The party now unequivocally backs another referendum under any circumstances. Another Europe is Possible organiser Ana Oppenheim commented:

We’ve phonebanked thousands of members all over the country since June. The strength of anti-Brexit feeling at the grassroots of the labour movement is uncontainable, and is growing … There is no way that we, or delegates from CLPs, will accept a slightly-better fudge as happened last year. We will take a Remain position to a vote on conference floor.

The deadline for local parties wanting to submit conference motions was 12 pm on Sep 12. Each CLP could only send one motion to be considered by Labour’s highest policy-making body. Through phone banking, AEIP found 61 CLPs who voted in favour of any kind of anti-Brexit conference motion, though some of these may not have sent the submission on time. Official figures have not yet been released. The campaign with the highest number of submission is expected to be Labour for a Green New Deal, which has been pushing a motion that would compel the party to back a net-zero carbon emissions target of 2030 rather than 2050.

We must stop Brexit in any form, councillors tell Jeremy Corbyn
Toby Helm, Groan, Sep 15 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has come under growing internal pressure to commit Labour to a unequivocal policy of remaining in the European Union as more than 100 councillors issued a joint warning to the party’s ruling body that any form of Brexit would threaten jobs, public services, workers’ rights and the environment. In a letter to the national executive committee (NEC), which meets this week, the Labour councillors, including several leaders of county and borough councils, called on the party “to campaign unambiguously and energetically for a public vote on Brexit and to endorse a ‘remain and transform’ position in all circumstances.” The group also said it would “support revoking article 50, if necessary to prevent no deal, and a commitment to a remain and transform position in a general election Labour manifesto.”

The grassroots intervention comes ahead of Labour’s annual conference starting in Brighton next weekend, at which the party’s stance on Brexit will be the subject of heated debate. With the Tories and Brexit party committed to leaving the EU, and Liberal Democrats, SNP and Greens firmly in favour of remaining, many Labour MPs, members and activists believe the party needs a similarly clear Brexit policy on which to fight a general election. Labour’s current position is that it would try to renegotiate a new Brexit deal if it formed a government, then put that to a second referendum with the options on the ballot paper being to remain in the EU or accept the new deal. Several members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, including the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and the chief whip, Nick Brown, have all said they would vote to remain in such a referendum, rather than vote for their own party’s deal. Corbyn has not said how he would campaign or whether the party would officially take a side.

While the nuanced position aims to accommodate both Remain and Leave voters, and is backed by several unions, there are signs of a growing grassroots revolt in favour of an unambiguous commitment to remain. Motions to the conference have already been submitted by more than 60 local branches calling on Corbyn to drop his plan to renegotiate and to commit to staying in the EU in all circumstances. The NEC will meet on Tuesday to discuss Brexit and how to handle the issue at conference. Last year, the subject dominated Labour’s conference in Liverpool. Eventually the party emerged with a fudged position under which it agreed to keep the idea of a second referendum on the table, if it could not force an early general election. In their letter to the NEC, the councillors say:

As Labour councillors we struggle with huge difficulties caused by Tory government cuts. Further, the economic effects of Brexit have already, and will continue, to increase the problems our constituents face and the barriers councils face in delivering local public services, including fighting the climate emergency. Any form of Brexit threatens jobs, workers’ rights, migrants, the NHS, public health, public services and the environment, and will make it harder to deliver a radical Labour manifesto. Ending austerity, expanding common ownership, fixing the social care system, and delivering a national education service will be hindered by any form of Brexit. If we leave the EU, we face years of negotiations and neoliberal trade deals.

In an email to his Newcastle East constituents, the MP Nick Brown said:

I am a moderate Remainer and have consistently believed that continued membership of the EU is in the national interest. I also believe it is in the overwhelming interest of the north-east of England. Therefore in such a confirmatory ballot, as in the 2016 referendum, I would campaign and vote to remain in the EU.

At its conference, which opened in Bournemouth last night, the Liberal Democrat party will vote on whether to support revoking article 50 without a referendum if it forms the next government. In the latest Opinium/Observer poll, the Conservatives are up 2 points compared to a week ago on 37%, while Labour is unchanged on 24% and the Lib Dems are down one point on 16%. The Brexit party is unchanged on 13%. A Labour party spokesperson said policy on Brexit would not be decided by the NEC and added:

Labour’s priority is to stop a disastrous no-deal Brexit. We can’t trust Boris Johnson to not crash us out of Europe on the worst possible terms.


  1. Djerzinski
    Posted September 15, 2019 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    This is just the pseudo-Trot AWL blowing their (well financed) trumpet.

  2. Jorge Rex
    Posted September 15, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    More theatre of the absurd as if European Union can save the self-inflicted wounds of Great Britain any more than they did for Greece.

    The Labour and Lib-Dem coalition government, with enthusiastic backing from the Tories, advocated PFI Schemes all across Scotland to build not just schools but hospitals, roads and bridges. They willfully blinded themselves to the obvious flaws in the PFI beast.

    The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) released a damning report about the flaws of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). It has been an economic disaster for society as a whole and left a toxic legacy which is eating away at public finances and leaving hospitals and schools in a swamp of all-consuming debt from which they can’t escape.

    Austerity has contributed to the deep malaise the public finances find themselves in but PFI debt payments are preventing hospitals from recruiting essential staff, buying essential equipment and repairing deteriorating buildings. In the English NHS alone £13 billion worth of investment that PFI brought into hospitals will end up costing a staggering £80 billion by the time the contracts come to an end. NHS Trusts are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy because they simply can’t cope with the increased demand for staff and services while paying off PFI debts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.