In a momentous victory for the party leadership, Labour conference has voted against turning the party into one of Remain before the next election.
Delegates instead approved the proposal favoured by Jeremy Corbyn, which will see the party wait until after the election of a Labour government to decide its position in a fresh EU referendum.
The vote was conducted by a show of hands, and there was some debate as to whether a card vote was needed. Ultimately, one was not taken.
Unite, GMB and Momentum backed the leadership line on Brexit, whereas Unison came out on Monday morning in favour of the ‘Remain now’ stance – joining the CLPs that put forward pro-Remain motions and various campaign groups.
Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum, personally advised delegates from local parties to “vote with their conscience”. But the national coordinating group ‘whipped’ CLP delegates against the Remain motion.
Michael Chessum, national organiser of the Another Europe is Possible campaign group that backed the defeated pro-Remain motion, commented: “Labour members, 90% of whom want to stay in the EU, will be deeply disappointed with this decision.
”It is possible that the Remain motion had a majority in the CLPs, but because there was no card vote we will never know.
“Brexit is a project of the Tory hard right. It is about attacking workers, downgrading migrants rights and shifting politics to the nationalist right. Labour beating the Tories is the only path to stopping this project, and it is not to late for Labour to make clear that that it opposes Brexit outright.
“Though it is not the policy we supported, the calling of a special conference to democratically decide Labour’s Brexit policy was a concession which we won. But a fudge is not a unity position. It is deeply divisive among members, and risks losing a large chunk of our voter base.
“This vote was set up as a loyalty test, but those grassroots activists who ran the campaign – Momentum activists, people who have fought for the left in Labour for years, know this is a nonsense. We have come so far in pushing Labour’s position towards a public vote, and while we might all be disappointed by this outcome, we must now prepare for the election. If Labour loses, the consequences will be dire.”