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Fri, 14 August 2020

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Jeremy Corbyn spared embarrassment as Momentum head off Brexit vote at Labour conference

Jeremy Corbyn spared embarrassment as Momentum head off Brexit vote at Labour conference

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Momentum activists have managed to head off embarrassment for Jeremy Corbyn by blocking a vote on Brexit at Labour’s annual conference.

The campaign group called on its members to support votes on other issues as part of an obscure process that decides which motions get put to the floor of the conference hall.

In doing so it ignored calls for conference delegates to vote on the party taking a more pro-EU stance. It also means Brexit will not be voted on at all during the conference.

A powerful coalition of unions, Labour moderates and Momentum members has been calling for a change in approach and a vote on the issue.

Just today some 30 Labour MPs were joined by MEPs and unions to urge Jeremy Corbyn to back continued membership of the single market after Brexit.

Labour has said it will commit to quitting the single market and customs union once Britain leaves the EU, and said freedom of movement will inevitably end.

If members rejected the official party view it would be a major embarrassment for the Labour leader, who has championed giving the grassroots a bigger say in policy.

But activists followed the advice of Momentum and instead voted for social care, the NHS, transport and housing to be the extra debating issues.

A debate on Brexit is scheduled for Monday but it will not go to a vote.

Pro-EU Labour MP Alison McGovern said: "It is disappointing that the biggest issue for our country hasn't made it onto the priority ballot."

Richard Angell, director of the centrist pressure group Progress, told the Huffington Post: "The first conference where Momentum have got a majority, they decide to use this stitch and fix to save Jeremy Corbyn’s blushes.

“The leadership of the past might have occasionally stitched things up but not normally within seconds of taking control.

“This would make the control freaks of the New Labour era blush.”

A Momentum spokesperson told PoliticsHome that Brexit was already getting air time at the conference and the group wanted to prioritise other domestic issues.

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