Labour MPs have just been sent a series of answers to questions on the party’s new Brexit position. The responses confirm that Labour has not yet decided whether it will back Remain or Leave in the event of a snap election.
To the question of whether Labour could go into an election “arguing to campaign for Leave in a referendum”, the document offers the reply: “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals – when we don’t know when the next election will come or whether we’ll even be in the EU by then”.
The unresolved element of ‘Scenario 2‘, concerning Labour’s manifesto position on Brexit, may be decided by conference in September. It would ultimately be determined by the ‘Clause V’ meeting that usually agrees the manifesto. The Q&A refers to this process, adding: “Our election position will be decided democratically at the time in the normal way.”
Below is the full text of Labour’s Q&A on Brexit.
Q. What is Labour’s Brexit position?
• We will challenge the next Prime Minister to put their version of Brexit to the test in a public vote, with remain as an option
• Labour would campaign for remain against No Deal or a damaging Tory deal
• We are implacably opposed to a No Deal outcome that would be disastrous for people’s jobs
and living standards
• We continue to believe Labour’s compromise plan is a sensible alternative that could bring the
country together, but the Tories have refused to compromise
Q. Would Labour back remain in a second referendum?
• If it is a straight choice between Remain and a disastrous No Deal Brexit, or a damaging Tory deal, then remaining in the EU would be the best option – and Labour would campaign for it
• But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the reasons people voted to leave in the first place. We
need a Labour government to deliver the real change and transformative policies that people want: ending austerity and investing in all parts of the country
Q. Does Labour support remain in all circumstances?
• The Tory leadership contenders are moving towards an ever more extreme version of Brexit, and should have the confidence to put their deal back before the people
• A public vote on any deal is now necessary to secure public support, because this has dragged on for over three years, causing huge uncertainty
Q. Does Labour just want to stop Brexit?
• Labour accepted the result of the referendum and voted to trigger Article 50
• But we are now three years on from the referendum, and business is facing further uncertainty. Jobs are at risk. We need to get this resolved by going back to the people
Q. Haven’t you been forced into this position?
• Not at all, I have spent the last few weeks consulting with, and listening to, all parts of our party – the shadow cabinet, NEC, trade unions and members
• This is a position that has won support across the labour movement: members, unions and the shadow cabinet
• (Labour has voted for a referendum on the final deal three times in the House of Commons already)
Q. Are you betraying Labour leave voters?
• It is this Government has failed to deliver on the referendum, failed to back a compromise that could win support in Parliament, and has caused huge economic uncertainty and put jobs at risk
• The No Deal being threatened by both Tory leadership candidates would be disastrous for our economy and would cost jobs. It is irresponsible, and is not what anyone voted for in 2016
• Labour will invest in all parts of the country, end austerity, and bring our country together with a positive programme. Whether you voted Leave or Remain that is the real issue facing us
• We continue to believe Labour’s compromise plan is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together, but the Tories have refused to compromise
Q. Doesn’t this break Labour’s manifesto commitment to respect the result of the referendum?
• No. Labour put forward a compromise Brexit plan to try and bring our divided country back together
• But the government has refused to compromise or move away from their red lines
• We were also clear in that 2017 manifesto that we would reject a no deal Brexit or a damaging deal based on the Tories’ Brexit White Paper
• The next Tory Prime Minister seems set to lead us towards a disastrous Brexit cliff edge that will damage jobs, living standards and communities across the country – and we will support a public vote to give people the final say
Q. What would Labour’s Brexit policy be in its General Election manifesto?
• Unlike the Tories, Labour’s manifesto is democratically agreed – so that will be up to the party, members and unions, at time an election is confirmed.
• Our policy will also depend on when the next General Election is called and what mess the Tories have left behind
• But we have said we need a credible deal to stop from crashing out with No Deal – and that deal should be put to a public vote along with the option to remain
Q. But could Labour go into an election arguing to campaign for leave in a referendum?
• I’m not going to get into hypotheticals – when we don’t know when the next election will come or whether we’ll even be in the EU by then
• What we’re saying today is that the next Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal or No deal back to the people
• Our election position will be decided democratically at the time in the normal way.
Q. Should no deal be on the ballot paper?
• No Prime Minister should countenance no deal, which would be disastrous for our economy and for businesses and workers
• But if it’s the position forced on us by a new Tory Prime Minister appointed by a small number of unrepresentative Tory members, then it should go to the public to decide