Trade union boss calls for emergency Labour conference to decide Brexit policy

Posted On: 
22nd November 2018

Labour should hold an emergency conference to decide its next move on Brexit and include the option of cancelling it altogether, a trade union chief has said.

Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the TSSA.
Credit: 
PA Images

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA), said the party needed to shift its policy from keeping all options open as they “can’t ride all the horses all of the time”.

Labour has said it will push for a general election to be held if the Commons votes down Theresa May's deal, with the option of a second referendum "on the table" if that fails.

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Mr Cortes said Jeremy Corbyn should not compromise on his position on the EU, but urged him to put the question of the next step to members.

"Jeremy’s position of remain and reform is as right today as it was back in 2016 - it’s why a general election is necessary,” he wrote in the Huffington Post.

“But I no more trust the Tories to give in gracefully before 2022 than I trust them to deliver a jobs-first Brexit. Labour’s current policy is that once May’s rotten deal is sunk, all options remain on table.

“This stance is for now holding us in good stead but we can’t ride all the horses all of the time.

“It’s why I believe Labour should convene an emergency Labour Party conference as soon as May’s deal is sunk so we can democratically decide which of the options on the table we should take."

Mr Cortes, who is a close ally of Mr Corbyn, added that the party leader should consider adding a “no Brexit at all” amendment if Parliament votes down Mrs May's deal.

Should that fail, the union chief said Labour should “plant the grenade” of a referendum on May’s deal with an option on the ballot paper to stay in the EU.

His call comes a day after frontbencher Steve Reed broke ranks saying a fresh election could not happen given the parliamentary arithmetic.

In a break with the official Labour line, the shadow culture minister said: “Cabinet is split, Parliament is deadlocked, and a snap election is not possible under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act without Tory support.

“In these circumstances, we must let the people take back control of Brexit and decide our country’s future through a People’s Vote.”

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said of Reed's comments: “We will seek to defeat the Government’s deal. The best outcome if it is defeated is a general election.

“If that’s not achievable all options are on the table including the option of a public vote.

“That is our policy, and obviously the discussion about what he said and the consequences of that will take place.”