Accept Brexit, take back control of our railways and fight the Tory failures – readers’ views on article 50

Much of the last month at Westminster has been dominated by Brexit. After 52 Labour MPs voted against the bill to start the process of leaving the EU, and Theresa May formally triggered article 50, we asked what it meant for the opposition.

Readers have left hundreds of comments on Labour’s response to article 50 so we have selected a few here:

Marie Naile-Akim

Leavers and hard Brexiters have been very clever in associating “Control” with leaving the EU. This gives a feeling that the ordinary person can somehow “control” the Westminster government better than he can ‘control’ the EU one. Hence, Labour needs clear examples of how we, the ordinary people, in reality control nothing under the Tories.

One good example of this is the selling-off of our infrastructure to foreign companies  —  often state-owned companies of other European countries. Instances such as the selling off of parts of the national grid to Macquarie or of state companies of other countries buying into our railways need to be highlighted as examples of us not having control, and not being likely to have control in Tory-run Brexit Britain. Real patriotism lies not in blaming problems on immigrants but in (for instance) opposing ownership of key British infrastructure by foreigners.

The Tories are very keen on the fight for “control” to stay in certain channels. Already, failure to do this has cost them the membership of the EU, and they would not want to let that set a trend. Labour need to re-interpret “control” in the way that suits the aims of the movement, and push for those aims using the “getting back control” terminology.


As demonstrated by the three-line whip, Labour policy is absolutely to implement the result of the referendum, and that was the case before the vote on June 23…

There’s no ignoring or dismissing the referendum result. It was clear that Labour would accept a Remain verdict, and therefore should do the same for Leave, regardless of what MPs and members would prefer. MPs’ own views are now irrelevant – Labour voted to give the decision to the public via a referendum. Leave won. It was clear on all sides from the nature of the campaign that all expectations were that the de jure “advisory” vote would in fact be regarded as politically sacred.

I do not agree with JC on much but great credit to him as he obviously realises this reality. Here’s Alan Johnson’s [view]: “At no point did I or anybody else on our side of the argument seek to trivialise the decision that each individual would take in the polling booth by suggesting that it was a glorified opinion poll, designed to advise MPs about what decision they should take. It would be an outrage for parliament to ignore the referendum result.” Full marks, Alan. Nail on head.

R Tozier

[Make the case to] stay in single market. Lower immigration by requiring jobs to be advertised in Britain and interview at least one British applicant, and extensive new requirements for benefit claimants, like minimum number of verifiable weekly applications and no right to refuse job offer without good reason. Also vast education overhaul to increase British employability.


We need to leave the single market, and have nothing to do with the EU. I do not know what has happened to Labour members, in 1975 majority of them voted to leave the single market.

Richard Dean

The EU27 are presently giving the UK a lesson in what democracy is.

The democratically elected governments of every independent nation state in the EU27 will be directly involved in the Brexit negotiations, and will determine both the guidelines and the details through their presence in the EU Council, who will have a veto on all proposals. The electorates of every independent nation state in the EU27 will have their says too, through their democratically elected MEPs, and the EU parliament will also have a veto on all proposals. The vetoes are a mechanism to ensure that the final result has to satisfy everyone in the EU27.

By contrast, none of the smaller states of the UK are independent. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will be told what to do by the Westminster government. Nor will our four populations have any real say in either the guidelines for the negotiations or the negotiations themselves, because Parliament has agreed not to have any meaningful vote. Instead of democracy, our Brexit will be shaped in secret, probably by not more than eight people, May, Davis, maybe Fox, Osborne, and Banks, and some civil servants.

The result? The Tories – indeed, those eight people – will be able will be able to roll back every EU regulation that successive Labour and Tory governments have agreed over the last 40 years. Without effective parliamentary scrutiny. They will be able to re-write the mission statements of every regulatory body that we must now set up to replace what we have lost by leaving the EU. Again without requiring parliamentary approval. That’s a huge prize for them, and a huge loss for democracy and the British people.


Labour should have been shouting loud and clear to remain in EU. They didn’t. We are leaving. It’s all downhill for a while now in my opinion, possibly even see war in Europe in our lifetime


Labour’s best bet is to expect Brexit talks go belly up and then to look like the adults who can fix the problem at the next election while the Tories are running around like headless chickens. Because the talks will go belly up and whatever measly compromise we’re handed will undoubtedly be sold as a great victory by the right and we need to be ready to fight that and make it clear how much we’ve lost.


What does article 50 mean for the official opposition? Really, very little. The official opposition will have no say or role in the negotiations and the buck will stop with the current Tory administration. Labour needs to prepare for the aftermath when either May manages a fudge of a compromise that the Brexiteers turn purple over or a “fall off a cliff” breakdown when the UK has to go it alone.

Personally speaking, a sensible strategy might be to suggest that Labour policy would seek an application of re-joining if things do turn out really nasty. That could be sold as pragmatic with the party thinking of the future of the country rather than ideology. Of course, whether such a narrative could be pushed in the current climate is anyone’s guess.

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