Brexit and antisemitism are still the only talk in Labour town. This week saw Jeremy Corbyn take the next step, as set out in Labour’s conference policy, and support the campaign for a public vote. The move has paused defections to the new Independent Group, but also given rise to complaints on both sides of the argument – from ‘People’s Vote’ MPs, who suspect the leadership may vote for another referendum but not campaign for it, to unhappy Leave seat representatives.
The latter group includes John Mann, who writes for LabourList today expressing his strong opposition to the proposal: “For far too long, traditional Labour voters have been ignored by the party. My voters are fed up with being patronised by a London-dominated, metropolitan elite within the Labour Party who seem to think they know best.” He and others are calling on the leadership to offer a free vote on the pro-‘people’s vote’ amendment, which will be tabled at the next meaningful vote before 12th March. The policy was approved by conference and this is therefore unlikely, but it would please quite a few frontbenchers.
As for antisemitism, Labour members supportive of Jeremy Corbyn have launched an open letter that apologises to the Jewish community for the party’s handling of antisemitism. Welcomed by Momentum and Wes Streeting, it has now been signed by thousands. But there are still members who vehemently disagree with the suspension of Chris Williamson, and the motion passed by Hackney North Labour last night – which basically reiterates his views – has inflamed the situation again.
The next meaningful vote could come as early as next week. The Labour line of thinking now is that the Phil Wilson/Peter Kyle amendment could be redrafted: Labour MPs wouldn’t be whipped to vote for the deal in return for a referendum, but would abstain until the deal had been approved by the public. This would be a “ratification” or “confirmation” referendum. What do you think of the new plan? And how would you vote in such a referendum? Should frontbenchers be free to campaign for their preferred option, as in 1975? Share your views on Labour’s Brexit policy development in our latest survey. Have a great weekend. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.