Labour could bring Brexit and this toxic government to an end in the next few months – if we make the right choices. Brexit is a far-right construct, political opportunism for the likes of Johnson and Farage, not a means to address the serious challenges so many in our communities face. Leaving the EU will not only risk jobs, food and medicine supplies, but will result in years of negotiations over trade deals, rather than focusing on housing, jobs and the NHS. We can’t afford for Brexit or this right-wing government to continue a moment longer.
We believe that a radical, socialist Labour government to transform our country is overdue. Far from being a time to despair, this is a time to organise – and together to decide on the best strategy to get us where we need to be.
It is clear that Boris Johnson cannot secure a majority in parliament, particularly after his expulsion of 21 MPs from his party. He can’t magic up a Brexit deal that wouldn’t split the remnants of the Conservatives, let alone attract cross-party support needed to get it through the Commons. He is a leading a zombie government.
The power sits with the opposition parties and Labour in particular. We can determine whether Johnson’s Queen’s Speech passes parliament, the timing of a general election or a new referendum, if and when to hold a vote of no confidence that would bring down this shoddy government.
A caretaker government led by Jeremy Corbyn is now the obvious way of stopping this disastrous government and Brexit, and enables us to clear the way for a public confirmatory vote. Any party trying to stop Brexit knows this is the way forward – the alternative is too bleak to contemplate.
But how does this come about? While there is a huge temptation to call a general election as soon as possible since we have a powerful policy offer to take to the country that would allow us to tackle climate change, create high quality jobs, end inequality and bring about real change in health and education. On Brexit, Labour is now the only major party offering the country the right to choose between Leave and Remain. We are the only party willing to trust that the people with a public vote, now that they have seen how divisive Brexit is to our families and communities.
The remit of this caretaker government should be to hold a referendum first, then a general election. This would rob both the Tories and Lib Dems of their defining policies – no deal and revocation. Having dealt with Brexit, Labour can move onto leading the election campaign with a vision for radical transformation, addressing the real needs our society faces. The Tory failure, meanwhile, will be evident for all to see. Meanwhile the Lib Dems, in their call to revoke Article 50, now have to re-examine who they are, since this is neither liberal nor democratic.
Holding a referendum first is a popular option among members and supporters. A recent Labour for a Public Vote survey found that 75% of Labour supporters want us to follow a ‘referendum first, general election second’ strategy as the best way to end Brexit and win a Labour government.
While confident that Labour’s agenda will give hope to all communities, we cannot underestimate the appeal of populism. A Boris Johnson/Nigel Farage coalition, however formal or informal, is incredibly dangerous. We know that they would sacrifice the country via no deal for their own expediency.
A good third of the country is committed to leaving the EU and could back Johnson all the way. If he does a deal with Farage, they will target Labour seats in an early election. Under such pressure to stop Brexit, people could turn to the Lib Dems, splitting votes in Labour seats and enabling a Tory/Brexit coalition government. This is our greatest fear of all: five more years of chaos and draconian policies hurting the people we want to help and out of the EU without a deal.
We must work to prevent this outcome, end Brexit and time the election so we can have a Labour government with a solid majority. Conference is the ideal opportunity for our party and movement to settle this matter. The public deserve the chance to throw out this government, but also to have a final say on Brexit, now that they have really seen what this is all about. It us up to Labour to determine how best to navigate the next few months to make ‘no deal’ impossible and secure a Labour government. Our members, who are the engine of our party, must now decide.