Mon, Dec 17, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Labour pushes for fresh Brexit vote

‘NOT FANATICS’:Left-wing Labour members in a motion accused the Conservatives of driving the UK ‘off a cliff,’ saying their Brexit agenda would destabilize the economy

The Observer

Members of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party who want to ditch Brexit because they believe it would make it impossible for the party to implement a left-wing manifesto have launched a fresh campaign for a second referendum.

The move puts Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn under increasing pressure to drop his resistance to a new public vote.

A “model motion” stating that Labour should campaign to put the issue to the people again and then back “Remain” was being circulated to all constituency Labour parties by Corbyn supporters.

They hoped most local parties will sign up to it before British Prime Minister Theresa May returns her Brexit deal to the UK House of Commons sometime next month.

The campaign is being run by young left-wing Labour activists headed by Michael Chessum, a former member of the steering committee of the pro-Corbyn grassroots movement Momentum.

He now heads the group Another Europe Is Possible, which helped shift party policy in the direction of a second referendum at its annual conference in Liverpool in September.

Chessum said activists in all constituency Labour parties were being contacted by telephone to urge them to back the motion, which he believes could be supported by more than 100 local parties by the middle of next month.

“The Tories’ Brexit agenda will deregulate and destabilize the economy, attack our rights and freedoms, and undermine our ability to implement a radical manifesto,” the motion says.

“We welcome the call of conference to put a public vote firmly on the table as a means of stopping this agenda, not because we are fanatics for referendums, but because we need to stop the process by which Tory free-marketeers are driving British society off a cliff. Any public vote on Brexit must, to be meaningful, include an option to Remain,” it says.

“Labour must campaign for a public vote on Brexit with an option to Remain and include such a vote in our manifesto,” it adds.

The move exposed the deepening tensions within Labour and reflected intense pressure being applied from parts of the Corbyn-supporting mass membership on the leader.

Party members and supporters overwhelmingly oppose Brexit and a clear majority back a second referendum, while Corbyn, a lifelong Euroskeptic, and some of his allies are resistant, believing that a second referendum could lead to a huge loss of traditional party supporters to the UK Independence Party.

The divisions over a new public vote were also deep within the shadow Cabinet.

The Observer has been told that at last week’s meeting, Ian Lavery, the party chair and joint campaign coordinator, said he was convinced that if Labour backed a second referendum it would be severely punished by Leave supporters who would desert in droves.

“I promise you that if we back a second referendum we will lose the next general election,” a source at the meeting quoted Lavery as saying.

After Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan last weekend came out in support of another public vote, she received a letter from Corbyn’s office reminding her in no uncertain terms that Labour was still not committed to the policy and that its position was to fight for a general election, not back another referendum.

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