EXCL Young Labour members at war over call for second Brexit vote

Posted On: 
20th May 2018

A furious row has broken out among young Labour members over a demand for a conference vote to change party policy on Brexit.

Young Labour chair Miriam Mirwitch faced an angry backlash from her national committee
Credit: 
PA Images

Young Labour chair Miriam Mirwitch came under fire from her own committee after signing her name to a letter calling for members to have a voice in the EU debate.

Some three quarters of Labour members believe a second Brexit referendum should be held on the deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels - but Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out offering a vote.

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The letter, penned with Labour Students chair Melantha Chittenden, urged Jeremy Corbyn to allow a vote at the upcoming Labour conference on changing tack to support a second Brexit referendum.

It said: “This will be the biggest issue to affect our generation; we deserve to have our voices heard by our own party.”

But within hours of the letter’s release, the Young Labour National Committee issued its own statement disowning the demand and stating “its strong opposition to a second referendum on British membership” of the EU.

It said it was not up to Young Labour to “ignore and condescend Leave voters” and insisted its mandate was to defend “the political leadership of Jeremy Corbyn".

It lashed out at Ms Mirwitch for signing the letter organised by LabourStay.EU - a new campaign organisation linked to the Labour-right affiliated groups Progress and Labour First.

And it said: “As a committee we therefore wish to collectively reassure members that Miriam Mirwitch’s actions do not represent Young Labour's National Committee.

“We believe it is important that the chair does not mislead the public on Young Labour's position towards Labour's Brexit policy.”

But Ms Mirwich shot back: “I would like to reaffirm that as chair of Young Labour I hold a mandate of my own and was elected via a [one member one vote] ballot of all young members.

“Other members of the committee are free to hold positions within the mandates awarded to them by members.

“I didn't say that this letter represented the views of the Young Labour National Committee at any point. I was simply lobbying for Young Labour members to have a say in policy.

“I will always fight for Young Labour members to have a voice in our movement.”

PoliticsHome understands the Young Labour National Committee confronted Ms Mirwich about the letter at a fractious meeting this afternoon. A source said she claimed not to have known about the background of LabourSay.EU.

They claimed that unlike others on the committee Ms Mirwich is not a “Momentum, hard-left political representative”.

CONFERENCE VOTE

Labour bigwigs were accused of organising to block a vote on Brexit policy at the annual conference last year, when members decided not to include it in a ballot of priority subjects for debate.

The conference did back a separate motion after Labour bosses produced one under pressure - but it did not concern fraught issues such as single market and customs union membership or a second referendum.

The letter today heaps further pressure on Mr Corbyn after Labour members in Lewisham East picked an anti-Brexit campaigner to stand for the party at an upcoming by-election.

Local deputy mayor Janet Daby won the candidacy in the strongly pro-Remain area after promising to fight to keep the UK in the single market and customs union - both of which are against Labour policy.