The campaign to turn Labour into a Remain party continues at full pelt. This morning, deputy leader Tom Watson has urged Labour members and supporters to join him in signing a declaration: ‘Labour must lead the campaign to Remain’. The slogan is ‘proudly British proudly European’. It now doesn’t seem as if the drive to force previously soft-Brexit-backing Labour to become a Remain-supporting party is futile at all – in fact it’s thought to be only a matter of time. Corbynites with large followings such as @LeftieStats and Owen Jones have been laying the ground for the shift towards Remain this week, arguing that “compromise is now impossible”.
As Jones points out, the danger is that any such move made reluctantly, and at this late stage, may be regarded as cynical by voters and thus reap none of the potential political benefits it could have done some time ago. But there is some inevitably about that – after all, most agreed that the 2016 referendum result had to be respected at the time, then the Brexit position didn’t hurt Labour at the 2017 election, and it is only very recently that election results and polls have put the fear into figures at the top of the party.
On LabourList today, we have one of the Labour MPs urging the party to endorse Remain – and particularly take the lead on supporting freedom of movement. Paul Sweeney, MP for Glasgow North East, argues that Labour “cannot let migrant workers be an afterthought in the Brexit process” if it wants to take anti-racism seriously. “Polish nurses or Romanian cleaners are just as much a part of the working class as their colleagues with British passports,” he points out. Sweeney ultimately endorses the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.
We also have a piece by Anna Turley. The MP for Redcar recently became the new chair of the Co-operative Party after taking over from Gareth Thomas who had occupied the role for eight years. She writes today about globalisation, our ever-increasing interconnectedness and how, counterintutively, this has led to feelings of loneliness. Virtual communities are no good substitute for local co-operatives. The answer to many of these problems is alternative forms of public ownership, Turley says – but innovative models rather than state-run corporations.
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