Labour set for conference showdown on Brexit as members call on party to back Remain

Posted On: 
16th September 2019

Labour are set for a fresh showdown on Brexit as it emerged the the vast majority of motions submitted for its party conference urge it to wholeheartedly back staying in the EU.

Labour are set to have another row over their Brexit stance at the party conference in Brighton.
PA Images

Ahead of their annual get together in Brighton next week, analysis reveals of the 90 motions sent in by constituency branches about EU policy, 81 urge Jeremy Corbyn to support remain in a second referendum. 

Shadow minister Marsha de Cordova is among those backing the call for Labour to harden its stance - saying the party has tried to “fudge our line before and failed dramatically”.

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So far Mr Corbyn has said if Labour gets in to power they would offer people another vote on EU membership, with a “credible option to leave” on the ballot paper alongside remain.

But members want the party leader to go further and make it official policy to support staying in, a stance supported by prominent frontbenchers John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott.

Mr Corbyn has not said which side, if any, Labour would officially back in such a campaign.

And campaign group Another Europe is Possible have warned against “backroom manoeuvres” being used to stop this being debated and voted on, saying it “will be a disaster for morale and for Labour’s prospects”.

They say not a single motion submitted to conference so far supports Brexit, which “matches polling among Labour members, which shows that more than 90% support Remain”. 

One of their supporters, the Battersea MP Ms de Cordova, said: “There is no middle ground when it comes to campaigning in an EU referendum.

“We tried to fudge our line before and failed dramatically. Our members and activists won’t forgive us if we do that again.

“It’s time to take a side and expose Brexit as the completely destructive Tory project it is.”

And Michael Chessum, national organiser for Another Europe is Possible, said: “Support for an explicit Remain stance is evidently overwhelming.

“If backroom manoeuvres are deployed to stop this being debated on conference floor will be a disaster for morale and for Labour’s prospects.

“We need a debate and a vote at conference.”

PoliticsHome revealed last week the party's Brexit stance dominated a meeting of trade union bosses, Mr McDonnell, Mr Corbyn and senior Labour aides at the TUC's annual conference.

It is understood Unite general secretary Len McCluskey made it clear to the Labour leader the party must not commit to backing Remain if it wins an election.

One source said: "Len dominated the whole thing, with nobody else putting up any real fight.

"He said we should be clear that we will negotiate a Labour version of Brexit and there will be no attempt to advocate Remain in the referendum."

The Labour Party have been contacted for comment.