Analysis

Corbyn can unite fractious Labour: by backing People’s Vote

by Luke Lythgoe | 14.06.2018

Labour MPs are woefully split on Brexit – that much became clear after Jeremy Corbyn suffered his biggest parliamentary rebellion yet in a vote on single market membership yesterday. But there’s a way out of this mess: back a People’s Vote.

90 MPs ignored the Labour leadership’s instructions to abstain over an amendment to stay in the European Economic Area, and therefore the single market. Rebellious MPs pulled in both directions: 75 supported the motion, while 15 voted to leave the EEA.

Laura Smith quit as shadow defence minister so she could oppose the amendment, arguing it didn’t reflect the “legitimate reasons” many of her constituents voted Leave. Meanwhile five parliamentary aides – Tonia Antoniazzi, Rosie Duffield, Ged Killen, Anna McMorrin and Ellie Reeves – quit Corbyn’s front bench so they could back the bid to stay in the single market.

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It’s unsurprising the party is so split, with no clear Brexit policy for MPs to rally behind. Both those in strong Leave and strong Remain seats are torn between loyalties to their party and their constituents.

Backing a People’s Vote is the right way forward. Labour believes in democracy. Giving the people the final say on the Brexit deal is the democratic option. Last week saw Starmer suggest his party was “keeping its options open” on the issue, meaning the party is edging in the right direction.

The pressure is growing within Corbyn’s party to back a People’s Vote. Labour politicians from the North East, Merseyside, Wales and London have all come out in support, as well as the Labour-affiliated TSSA union. So has the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and student leaders representing nearly a million students. A lot of these are strong supporters of Labour and Corbyn.

The policy of opposing the government’s Brexit deal if the “six tests” penned by shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer are not met has taken Labour this far. But the position is now too tentative.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “Corbyn can unite fractious Labour: by backing People’s Vote”

  • Why can they not stop all this nonsense and simply get on with putting the country back on ab even keel? The Tories will not do it and they are occupied with selling off the NHS and providing drilling permits to fracking companies, for example. Pull yourself together Corbyn and do the right thing. Stay in the EU and fix the broken parts of our country.

    WAKE UP CORBYN! You are behaving no better than the Tories.