Left-wing campaign heaps fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to back Remain in second Brexit referendum

Posted On: 
23rd June 2019

Left-wing campaigners have urged Jeremy Corbyn to end his party's "equivocation" over a second referendum and make a "radical" case for Britain staying in the European Union.

The Labour leader is expected to set out the party's stance on a second referendum later this week.
Credit: 
PA

The Another Europe Is Possible group - whose members include Labour MPs - said the Remain side risked losing another public vote unless the left could "unite" to campaign against Brexit.

Mr Corbyn is expected to make a public statement on Labour's Brexit position later in the week, amid growing calls from some in the party to fully back a second referendum in all circumstances.

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He also faces pressure from MPs in Leave-supporting seats to instead make a renewed push with the Government for a Brexit deal.

But Labour MP Clive Lewis, a member of the Another Europe Is Possible Group, warned Mr Corbyn: “There can be no more equivocation, no more hesitation."

And he added: "We need to prepare to fight Boris Johnson the moment he gets into Downing Street, and win millions of people over to a vision of staying in Europe and building a greener, more equal Britain in which no one is left behind.

"Only a radical message that offers hope to people can beat Brexit, and the left must unite to deliver it. I invite everyone - from Jeremy Corbyn to climate strikers to community activists and union shop stewards - to join us in this campaign."

The group's new campaign - dubbed 'Remain, Reform, Revolt' - aims to prepare the ground for a second referendum, arguing that the 2016 vote was lost because of its ties with established politicians.

'UNITED, INSURGENT'

It comes ahead of a crunch Shadow Cabinet meeting on Tuesday which is expected to be dominated by Brexit, and as Mr Corbyn prepares to discuss the party's EU stance with trade union chiefs this week.

Laura Parker, who works for the pro-Corbyn Momentum campaign group and also ran for Labour in the European elections, said: "The 2016 main referendum campaign was a disaster - fronted by rich white men in suits pushing political messages which completely alienated many of the voters we needed to win over."

She added: "We can only win a public vote by tying the case against Brexit into a radical programme to bring up wages and living standards. That’s a message that can only be delivered by a united, insurgent left - and we, the left, need to get serious about preparing for a campaign."

The campaign also has the backing of Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA trade union.

The union chief has repeatedly made the case for a second Brexit referendum, urging Mr Corbyn earlier this month to  "move quickly" and back another public vote before the next Conservative leader is elected.

The launch comes as polling for the People's Vote campaign, which is pushing for a second referendum, finds that rank-and-file trade union members back a fresh public vote by 64% to 33%.

According to the study, 71% of the 1,813 union members polled would back staying in the EU if a second referendum were held, with just 29% opposed.

Labour's Jo Stevens, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign and secretary of the Trade Union Group of MPs, said: "Labour is moving to giving the people the final say on Brexit and campaigning to stay. This is the right thing to do for our economy, jobs and our internationalist outward-looking trade union and Labour values

“But Labour’s official position is still too far behind that of our party members and voters, not to mention grassroots trade unionists who are the bedrock of our movement

“When Jeremy Corbyn meets with trade union general secretaries, I hope he hears the strong message from working people, trade union members up and down the country, that we want a People’s Vote just like his constituents do in Islington - because now, more than ever, we need those voices to be heard.”

But Labour MP Caroline Flint, among the 26 MPs who wrote to Mr Corbyn in recent days warning against a second referendum, on Sunday urged the Labour leader to “respect democracy”.

The MP’s Don Valley constituency voted 68% in favour of leaving the EU at the 2016 referendum, and she said: “It’s not democratic to ask Leave voters to vote twice to prove themselves. But also, look, we have to respect democracy.

“I think we have to bring the country together. I think out there, outside the buzz of Westminster and outside the media, there are both Leave and Remain voters who want to see progress being made.”