Editorial

Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit!

by: Open Labour on 28.11.18 | In: Editorial | Tags: , ,
by: Open Labour on: 28.11.18 in: Editorial tags: , ,

At our Summer Conference we launched our first pamphlet, Owning the Future: the Left’s Relationship with Europe – a collaborative initiative with Unison and guest contributions. We argued that a free trade and ‘no deal’ were the worst possible outcomes for both workers and business; furthermore we stated: “Workers’ rights and jobs are best protected in all sectors by a combination of a Customs Union and membership of the Single Market or EEA without necessarily being in the EU.”

At the same Conference in June our keynote speaker, John McDonnell MP, explained to our members that the Party was walking a tightrope and trying to move forward one step at a time.  In particular, he said “…we have said about a referendum … we don’t rule out any form of democratic engagement … I’d rather we had a general election but we have to tread carefully ….”

Strange Days

Jump forward to November 2018 and the release of the details of May’s proposed withdrawal agreement and we find a proposal on the table that fails to protect jobs, includes an ill-conceived backstop plan, suggests less favourable trading relationships for UK businesses and the potential decimation of our fishing industry, to name but a few conceivable impacts.

It has been a strange few days with positions evolving as the details of the Brexit deal are digested and understood fully.

Yesterday our own Alex Sobel MP wrote a piece for the Yorkshire Post stating that he would not vote for the Brexit deal in its current form; he said:

“I cannot support any option which doesn’t protect jobs, employment and consumer rights and environmental standards. We must see no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Spain.”

He concluded with a passionate defence of the EFTA option, and failing that, another vote on membership of the EU: “… if the opportunity to vote to renegotiate, to join EFTA or for another vote on EU membership arises in Parliament, I will vote for any and all of these. I will not vote for the Prime Minister’s blank cheque and I will oppose a no deal Brexit with every fibre of my being.”  Solidarity comrade!

People’s Vote

Today’s news included a feature interview with John McDonnell MP in the Guardian wherein he said “If we can’t get a general election, a people’s vote is on the table and that might be an option we seize upon.”

The media immediately went into a frenzy, believing this to be a radical change in Party policy, not realising that he had said pretty much the same at the Open Labour Conference in June, and it was and is consistent with our Party policy anyhow.

John was then invited onto the BBC to be interviewed on the subject of Labour’s policy on a future referendum.  First of all, he reminded us that this position was congruent with official Labour policy:

“The composite (agreed at our Party Conference) said we want a deal that will protect jobs; if we can’t achieve that, we shall have a general election; if that’s not possible then we will be calling on the government again to call a public vote.”

He then took the opportunity to be very clear on his, and our, position:

“… our policy is, if we can’t get a general election, well then, the other option which we have kept on the table is a public vote, a people’s vote.”

As a movement built on internationalism, we at Open Labour support our MP, Alex Sobel and our Shadow Chancellor as they try to do their best for their constituents and the UK as a whole.  These are unprecedented times in political life, but we are confident that any deal supported by us as a Labour movement, really will have the best interests of the nation at its core.

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