With the local and European elections out of the way and a summer of Tory infighting in store, Labour members’ attention is gradually turning towards our own conference in September. The anti-Brexit left has now launched its motions drive, with Another Europe is Possible, Open Labour and Labour for a Socialist Europe asking activists to put their motion to CLPs across the country. As a member of Love Socialism Hate Brexit, I am proud to be supporting it.
Last year’s conference saw a record-breaking number of motions submitted, calling for Labour to campaign for a public vote on Brexit. Since then, pushed by constant pressure from our members, the party has been slowly moving in the right direction. A fresh referendum is no longer a distant possibility to consider – our leadership now acknowledges that it might be the only option left on the table.
However, if the results of the European elections have shown us anything, it’s that we can no longer afford to hesitate. Both major parties are being punished for their ambiguity. Our supporters are three times as likely to switch to parties unequivocally opposing Brexit.
To win the next general election and thwart the prospect of many more years of Tory government, Labour must lead the Remain movement. The alternative is years of austerity, delivered potentially by a far-right government relying on Brexit Party support.
The urgency of having a clear policy on Brexit isn’t just about electoral calculation. Labour can’t look away and change the topic when Brexit is a real and immediate threat to the people we represent. Thousands of jobs are already being lost amid the Brexit chaos, with countless more set to go if we leave.
We know from Donald Trump that our NHS will be up for grabs in a Tory US trade deal. Our rights, consumer standards, environmental standards and public services will be on the table in post-Brexit trade deals.
Over three million EU nationals in the UK and over a million British citizens in Europe have already endured three years of uncertainty about their future. We need to be firm: Brexit is a mess and we won’t stand for any more of this.
With the Brexit Party topping the polls and the Tories likely to elect a Brexit hardliner as the next Prime Minister, let’s not delude ourselves that a compromise is still possible. No version of Brexit would have been better than staying in Europe, but now we are heading towards an extreme form of Brexit that will make working people poorer, give the Tories a free reign to undermine our rights and freedoms, and push Britain straight into the arms of Trump’s friends who are salivating at the prospect of carving up our NHS. Nobody voted for this, and our voters will never forgive us if we don’t stand up for their interests and values.
Our campaign against Brexit needs to be energetic and radical. The vote to Remain needs to be tied to socialist policies which fight inequality, protect our diversity as a nation and boost the rights of migrants and workers, rolling back decades of Thatcherism and forging a path towards a green, socially just Britain. We need to take our role as an internationalist party seriously.
But above all, we need to be energetic about opposing Brexit. We need set piece speeches and massive grassroots campaigns, mirroring the work we did in the 2017 election. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has come back from the brink before, and it can do so again with enough vision and determination. The refresh that our party requires must be grassroots-led with party members strongly backing a public vote and campaigning for remain.
The party has come a long way, but our public position is still not good enough. Every moment we wait loses us votes and lets down the people we represent. From the grassroots of the labour movement, MPs like me need to hear a clear, resounding message that we can echo in Westminster: we need a public vote and we need to campaign to remain.
On behalf of the Love Socialism Hate Brexit MPs, I am asking you to please consider putting our motion to your local Labour Party, and join us as we step up our campaign to stop Brexit and fight for a public vote between now and conference.