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Tag: Labour

Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Labour conference: Members vote to keep Remain vote option (BBC)

Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, speaking at the Labour Conference.

25 September 2018

Labour delegates have approved a motion that would keep all options – including a fresh referendum – on the table if MPs are deadlocked over Brexit.

It was passed by a show of hands at the party conference in Liverpool.
The vast majority were in favour of the motion, with only a small number against.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn – who has previously ruled out another EU referendum – has said he will respect the result of the vote.
Sir Keir Starmer said earlier that the option of staying in the EU would be on the ballot paper in any future referendum if Labour gets its way.
In his party conference speech, the shadow Brexit secretary said all options should be kept on the table, including a so-called People’s Vote, to “stop a destructive Tory Brexit”.
But a senior Unite official said another vote would “reopen the wounds of Brexit” not heal them.
Labour’s policy had been to force an election if MPs are deadlocked over Brexit but members succeeded in getting a debate on getting a fresh referendum on to the agenda at the conference.

Sir Keir told Labour activists if a general election was not possible “then other options must be kept open”.
“That includes campaigning for a public vote,” he said.
“It is right for Parliament to have the first say but if we need to break the impasse, our options must include campaigning for a public vote and nobody is ruling out Remain as an option.”

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Momentum’s national co-ordinator, Laura Parker

Momentum won’t block second Brexit vote debate at Labour conference (The Guardian, Jessica Elgot)

Wed 19 Sep 2018

More than 100 constituency parties want party to back a referendum on Brexit deal.

Momentum has said it will not block a debate on Brexit at the Labour conference, meaning the party could see members back a second referendum on the conference floor.

Last year, Momentum steered its delegates to vote on other topics, including housing, the NHS and rail, to swerve a possible vote on single-market membership which could have exposed tensions between the Labour leadership and members.

In Liverpool this year, that will not be repeated, Momentum’s national co-ordinator, Laura Parker, said. “Last year, the context was very different. Now, it’s absolutely inevitable there will be a discussion on conference floor, I can’t conceive there won’t be – we’re 200 days away,” she said. “Without a doubt, there has to be a debate.”

More than 100 constituency Labour parties have submitted motions to the Labour conference calling for the party to back a referendum on any final Brexit deal, which campaigners believe is an unprecedented number.

The drive has been spearheaded by a number of leftwing groups, including Another Europe is Possible, Remain Labour, Labour for a People’s Vote and the student group For Future’s Sake (FFS).

The final motion put to Labour conference is likely to be a compromise thrashed out between delegates from CLPs that have submitted anti-Brexit motions, trade unions and the leadership.

Labour’s governing national executive committee could also offer its own statement as a substitute, rather than risk being defeated on the conference floor in Liverpool by grassroots delegates who support a second referendum.

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Picture of Emily Thornberry GARETH FULLER/PA

Labour won’t back Chequers Brexit, says Emily Thornberry (The Times)

Labour has been accused of putting “power over principle” after Emily Thornberry all but ruled out backing a Chequers-style Brexit deal.

The shadow foreign secretary savaged Theresa May’s attempts to find a compromise with the EU and said that a workable deal was “just not going to happen”.

She also indicated that Labour would press for a general election rather than a second referendum if parliament rejected a deal this autumn.

In an interview with the Financial Times she said that she “can’t see them coming back with a deal that is going to meet our six tests”. One of Labour’s conditions for a deal with the EU is that it delivers the same benefits to the UK as its present membership.

Joshua Hardie, deputy director of the CBI, urged the party not to put partisan advantage above national interest. “The risk is that Labour will vote against any May deal using ‘exact benefits’ test as excuse,” he tweeted. “Dangerously close to putting power above principle, wouldn’t automatically lead to general election but could lead to no deal.”

Ms Thornberry anticipated Mrs May’s attempts to present MPs with a choice only of backing a Chequers deal or crashing out without an agreement. “Even if they come back in October, November, and say, ‘This flimsy bit of paper is what you’re going to have to agree to, otherwise there’ll be no deal.’ We’re not going to agree to either of those.”

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Pressure grows on Labour to back a referendum on a Brexit deal (The Economist)

As polls shift towards Remain, campaigners urge Jeremy Corbyn to change his line.

EVEN as Brexit negotiations are being speeded up, talk of missed deadlines and a possible no-deal outcome seems to grow. That strengthens the groups such as People’s Vote and Best for Britain that are campaigning for a referendum on any Brexit deal, with an option to remain in the European Union instead. Polls on whether people want another vote are inconclusive and often heavily dependent on the question’s wording. But if Parliament cannot agree to a deal and the alternative becomes to leave without one, most voters seem to prefer a new referendum.

Campaigners are focusing their efforts on Labour and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. He is a long-standing Eurosceptic. Labour’s position is to respect the result of the 2016 referendum but demand a Brexit that passes six tests, notably to protect jobs and the economy. On this basis it seems sure to oppose any deal that Theresa May brings back from Brussels. If Parliament defeats this, Mr Corbyn wants a general election, not another referendum. The party worries that supporting another referendum might cost it Leave voters, by seeming to align too closely with a Remain-backing establishment. Complicating its position are fears that the real ambition of anti-Brexit (and anti-Corbyn) Labour MPs now is to start a new centrist party.

Yet some senior Labour figures are more equivocal. Both John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, have been careful not to rule out a referendum in any circumstances. A parliamentary rejection of a deal may not trigger an election, and an election might not change the dynamics of Brexit. Hence the case for another vote, which is now endorsed by many of Labour’s leading trade-union backers. Several unions support moves to persuade the Labour conference in late September to call for a new referendum.

One reason for this is the perception that public opinion is shifting. Recent surveys by YouGov, a pollster, seem to support this. Peter Kellner, a former president of YouGov, concludes from the latest evidence that what was a 52-48% Leave majority in June 2016 has switched to a 53-47% Remain one. He says the shift against Brexit is most marked in Labour seats, especially in the north, which voted strongly for Leave. This has led some campaigners to argue that Mr Corbyn’s fuzzy position on Brexit could deprive him of as many as 4m new votes. Labour insiders dismiss such claims. Brexit is widely identified with the Tories in any event. And they think any shift in public opinion is too small to justify a stronger pro-Remain position.

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