Dozens of Labour councillors call on Jeremy Corbyn to pledge Brexit rethink

Posted On: 
27th December 2017

Some 70 Labour councillors have piled pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to promise Brits a rethink on Brexit.

The councillors said: "In the boroughs we represent, the reality of Brexit is bleak"
Credit: 
PA Images

The London representatives said Labour should “be committed to providing the opportunity for people to change their mind”.

In a further show of the major split in the party over Brexit they said making the bold pledge would show “bravery, maturity and the principled leadership the country so desperately needs”.

Jeremy Corbyn suffers major Brexit rebellion as 64 Labour MPs defy whip over customs union

ANALYSIS: The Tories are split on Brexit - but Labour's problems are just beginning

Tory rebels 'call on Theresa May to form soft Brexit alliance’ with Labour MPs

Labour is coming under increasing pressure to firm up its stance on Brexit after managing to straddle the debate since the 2016 EU referendum.

In London just five boroughs voted for Brexit and some 60% of the population opted to remain in the bloc. In some areas the vote was more than 70% for staying in.

The 70 Labour councillors from Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth - including Southwark leader Peter John and Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock - urged their party to rethink its stance.

“In the boroughs we represent, the reality of Brexit is bleak,” they said in a letter to Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer which was seen by PoliticsHome.

“On the biggest issue facing our country since the Second World War, Labour should be committed to providing the opportunity for people to change their mind.

“Doing so would demonstrate bravery, maturity and the principled leadership the country so desperately needs.”

They noted that the mechanism for the public to have another say must be an “open question”. A source explained that the intervention was not an explicit call for a second referendum.

The letter lamented that Brexit was “costing the country billions” and argued it had piled strain on the NHS and “raised the likelihood of the breakup of the United Kingdom”.

It called on Labour to “admit” that Brexit would not answer calls across the UK for change on spending cuts and a perceived unfairness on immigration.

And it added: “The current Prime Minister is the weakest in living memory, her Cabinet the most inept for generations.

“Their approach to the negotiations has been an embarrassing display of arrogance, under-preparedness and bone-headed jingoism.

“But while their particular unsuitability as negotiators has been made plain, the contradictions inherent in the Brexit project itself should concern the Labour Party far more than has been the case up to now.

“We should be prepared to offer the electorate the opportunity to say whether leaving the EU is really in the best interests of the country.”

Meanwhile, PoliticsHome revealed this month that Labour was coming under pressure from trade unions to promise continued membership of the European single market after Brexit.