Almost 300 local Labour parties set to debate anti-Brexit motion

Sienna Rodgers
© Another Europe is Possible/Jess Hurd

287 local Labour parties are set to debate an anti-Brexit motion that would force a significant policy change, according to organisers behind the move. Ahead of annual conference in September, hundreds of members have agreed to put forward the proposal drafted by pro-EU groups Another Europe is Possible, Labour for a Socialist Europe and Open Labour.

The motion being considered asserts unconditional support for another referendum, which Jeremy Corbyn has now confirmed constitutes Labour policy – but it would also commit the party to backing Remain. If passed, it would rule out backing any form of Brexit, which the motion describes as “a Tory project”.

Campaigners are building grassroots support via the use of phonebanks, run by Another Europe is Possible, and the motion has been endorsed by the Love Socialism Hate Brexit group of Labour MPs, which includes frontbenchers such as Clive Lewis and Rachael Maskell.

Corbynite group Momentum have not included a Brexit proposal in their list of ten suggested policy motions, and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey continues to oppose a fresh public vote. But anti-Brexit activists hope that the support of large trade unions including UNISON and GMB will guarantee a positive result at conference.

Nadia Whittome, a member of AEIP’s national committee, commented: “After just five days of phonebanking, we have almost 300 CLPs set to debate a motion which would enact a complete shift in Labour’s Brexit policy and reassert our commitment to fighting for a radical transformation of Britain, with massive public investment.”

The final submission deadline for motions going to conference this year is Thursday 12th September. Although local party meetings usually don’t take place in August, campaigners for the ‘Stop Brexit, Transform Britain and Europe’ motion expect the figure of 287 constituency parties to grow substantially before then.

Following a rule change that was recommended by Labour’s democracy review and approved by delegates last year, conference will now debate 20 motions on policy and organisational issues rather than just ten. (Half of the total are submitted by the CLP section.)

This makes it much more likely that any one motion will be debated at conference – as does there no longer being a requirement for motions to be ‘contemporary’, which usually meant relating to an event that took place over the summer.

Although it is not necessary for hundreds of CLPs to pass the same motion, as a proposal submitted by just one CLP can get to conference, anti-Brexit campaigners believe that a show of force is important. 

As Another Europe is Possible organiser Michael Chessum recently tweeted: “As long as the delegate holding the text is competent and intransigent in composite it will probably reach the floor. So all eyes on potential union opposition.”

At Labour conference 2018, compromises were made by delegates in the crunch compositing meeting that merged hundreds of different Brexit motions to create a single motion. But it is expected that no such “fudge” – i.e. leaving options “on the table”, rather than clearly ruling out support for Leave or Remain – will be accepted this year.

Below is the full text of the (new) motion drafted by Another Europe is Possible, Labour for a Socialist Europe and Open Labour.

Stop Brexit, Transform Britain and Europe

Conference notes the vast majority of Labour members and voters oppose Brexit. Our policy must reflect members’ overwhelming support for a public vote.

We cannot go into a general election without a clear Brexit policy.

If we leave the EU, Brexit does not end. We face years of negotiations and neoliberal trade deals. Any form of Brexit threatens jobs, workers’ rights, migrants, the NHS, public services and the environment, and makes it harder to deliver a radical manifesto.

Brexit is part of a right-wing nationalist exploitation of global economic and social crisis.

We will challenge the narratives of the far right, addressing the reasons people voted Leave. We will attack poverty, insecurity and inequality; rebuild communities with public investment and ownership; boost wages and union rights; and combat the climate crisis. We will defend free movement and extend migrants’ rights.

The Leave vote is three years old. What was meant by Leave was never clear. There is no mandate for any Brexit settlement. Democracy demands the people have a final say.

Labour will campaign energetically for a public vote and to Remain. We support revoking Article 50 if necessary to prevent no deal.

Capitalism is transnational; we need transnational institutions and workers’ movements to challenge it. We will build cross-border alliances to transform Europe with socialist policies, starting with a Green New Deal, levelling up of wages and rights, and ending Fortress Europe. Labour will convene an international conference of left parties, unions and social movements to coordinate this struggle.

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