As the countdown to exiting the EU is almost upon us, it seems that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that the Labour Party will support a second referendum. When the EU referendum was held in 2016, Parliament voted for it and said it would respect the result. Clearly the commitment to honour the result as we have seen by the new TIG Group was bogus. In politics, party leaders are seen as being all wise and the fountain of knowledge, on this issue Jeremy Corbyn is badly out of step.
If there is a weakeness in any attempt by Jeremy Corbyn to become PM, it rests on his decisions relating to foreign affairs. Jeremy Corbyn telling telling his MPs the party will support a second referendum to prevent a "damaging Tory Brexit" will look to some as him preventing any more Labour MP resignations.
This to me looks what it is, pure and simple, an attempt to stem the defections by Remain Labour MPs to the newly formed Independent Group, instead of riding out the storm. He has shown weakness, and it looks like weakness. We had a public vote, it must be honoured fully, no weasling out of that promise.
In recent days, senior Labour figures like John McDonnell have been suggesting the party was “moving towards” backing a People’s Vote. What McDonnell doesn’t grasp or think about fully is the ripple, the ripple in the North of England, which he needs to win power alongside Scotland.
If there was an election tomorrow, what would 17 million leave voters do with their vote, especially when a huge amount comes from Labour heartlands of the north?
Forgive and forget?
At present, some of the details, the nitty gritty are unclear, we have seen the wide paint brush stroke, what is missing is precise question would be on the ballot paper and would staying in the EU be an option.
This is why I don’t take this intervention seriously, but that being said, the Labour Party needs another car crash like you need the clap.
"The Prime Minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous No Deal. We cannot and will not accept.
Last week, after our visit to talk to EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid, no one can be in any doubt Labour's alternative Brexit plan is serious and credible. We are convinced our alternative, which puts jobs and living standards first, could command support in the House of Commons, bring people who voted Leave and Remain together, and be negotiated with the EU. That's why we will be putting down an amendment in parliament this week setting out Labour's plan: for a comprehensive customs union with a UK say; close alignment with the single market; guarantees on rights and standards; protection for Britain's role in EU agencies; and a security agreement which guarantees access to the European arrest warrant and vital shared databases. And we will be calling for legislation to underpin this mandate.”
If you steal people’s democracy by ignoring the first vote, exactly how will this bring people who voted Leave and Remain together?
The Labour leader has also made clear that his party would also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a No Deal outcome.
All of this is of course to try and force a general election, which I would argue isn’t the right time for Labour, but Jeremy Corbyn is on a clock, he will get one shot at being PM.
Why one shot?
If Corbyn doesn’t win the next General Election, he loses his window and that forces him and others to plan to bring through a new generation of Labour leaders.
“One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent no-deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May's overwhelmingly rejected deal. That's why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country."
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham and a supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said:
"It is welcome news that the Labour Party is now, at long last, signalling it will accept the principle of giving the public the final say on Brexit. Even if MPs can agree some sort of deal, it would be wrong to force it on the British people when we now know so many of the promises made in 2016 have been broken and any deal will be worse than the one we've already got inside the EU. These are dangerous times for the Labour Party and our country. Jeremy Corbyn is today taking the first step to reunite our party by showing he is listening to our voters and members on this, the biggest issue of our time. But it is also crucial when food prices are already rising and car manufacturers are scrapping investment that we provide the clarity needed to plan for the future."
Labour colleague Clive Lewis, on behalf of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said:
"This decision is a hugely positive step for the Labour Party and our movement as a whole. With this announcement we’re now offering real and unambiguous opposition to Tory Brexit and giving the public the final say on the issue. To my mind, we would never have been forgiven for facilitating Tory Brexit. Especially as the true nature of this project has become increasingly clear to the public these past two years. Namely that it is a hard right, deregulating, race to the bottom economic agenda that has not and will not hesitate to indulge in dog-whistle politics and worse.”
The Norwich MP added:
"The Labour leadership is clearly stating that if Labour’s alternative Brexit proposal is defeated this week, we will swing fully behind giving the public the final say on whether to leave the EU or stay and rebuild Britain and create a Europe for the many."
Let us all be clear, this isn’t a Tory Brexit, and I would suggest that this move will come to nothing, but it will anger Leave voters. Having hopped off the fence, Jeremy Corbyn has missed the frying pan and ended up in the fire. His only hope is that the Prime Minister Theresa May keeps on course and distractions like the ‘people’s vote nonsense dies a quick death.
Finally, the Labour Party leadership has experienced a run of bad luck, but if you prescribe to the theory you make your own luck, you also make your own bad luck. Defecting Labour MPs should be allowed to go, and told, simply, once you go, you aren’t coming back. The new TIG Group might want to form a new party but they don’t have the organisation, they don’t have the support, and they don’t have the numbers. Basically, these people might form a party but when they fight their seat at the next election, their campaigns will be like an independent campaign. Am I willing to campaign for a second referendum vote if asked by the Labour Party, short answer is no. Already Labour MPs in leave areas say this decision will decimate the party in the Midlands and North, no brainer there!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University