Campaigners for a fresh EU referendum have welcomed Labour’s backing but admitted that an amendment supporting the move could still fail to gain MPs’ approval. Left-wing cross-party group Another Europe is Possible has described the new commitment made by Jeremy Corbyn on Monday as a “huge step forward” – however it also says the party must actively campaign ahead of the vote.
The organisation has drafted a new motion for Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) to debate and pass. “Labour must now campaign against Brexit on the doorstep, and prepare to win a fresh referendum,” reads the motion, which resolves that “all Labour MPs must vote in favour of a public vote on the final Brexit deal”.
LabourList has been asking MPs and other party sources for their views on the potential size of the rebellion when the proposal for another referendum comes to a Commons vote. Most currently estimate that there will be between 25 and 50 Labour MPs defying the whip to vote against or abstain, including some shadow ministers. This number would prevent the amendment from passing. Many MPs are waiting to see the final draft before making their decision.
Another Europe is Possible’s motion calls on Labour to “campaign for a public vote, not just vote for one – including by mobilising for demonstrations”. The group has planned a day of action on March 10th, and Jeremy Corbyn will be expected by those in favour of another public vote to attend the “put it to the people” demonstration in London on 23rd March.
AEIP organiser Ana Oppenheim said: “Labour’s move towards backing a public vote on Brexit is a huge step forward. This will save Labour’s electoral chances, and it is the right thing to do. The overwhelming majority of Labour members, and its voters in every seat, back a fresh public vote. Brexit is a Tory project – it is about driving down regulatory standards, wages and rights. Allowing Brexit to happen will make it much harder for us to implement a radical manifesto. Stopping it gives us the chance to bring down the government and put forward a radical vision for transforming Britain and Europe.
“But we have to be clear that just voting for the right amendment may not be enough. Labour’s policy isn’t just to whip for a public vote, it is to campaign for one. We need Labour to be out on doorsteps up and down the country making the case for a public vote, and backing demonstrations demanding a final say. Mass mobilisation could shift the balance of forces in parliament, and Labour can deliver that, combining it with the radical political demands we need to win a referendum.”