Blow for Jeremy Corbyn as Unison breaks ranks to back calls for Labour to be pro-Remain

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

A major trade union has broken ranks with Jeremy Corbyn to back moves to force Labour to support staying in the European Union in all circumstances.

Unison boss Dave Prentis has broken ranks with Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit.
PA Images

In a blow for the Labour leader, Unison has decided to support a motion calling on the party to back Remain in any second EU referendum.

A rival motion, backed by Mr Corbyn, says Labour should take a neutral position on Brexit until a separate party conference takes place.

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Both positions will be debated and voted on at Labour's annual conference in Brighton on Monday. 

A Unison source said: "This is about the national interest - it's far bigger than what is best for the Labour party."

Their decision puts them at odds with other unions, including Unite, the GMB and TSSA, but increases the chances of the pro-Remain motion being passed and therefore becoming official Labour policy.

Labour insiders say the votes of Momentum members will be crucial in the knife-edge vote. It is understood that if three-quarters of them defy Mr Corbyn, the leadership will be defeated.

However, The Guardian reported that Momentum has decided to back Mr Corbyn's decision - in defiance of the organisation's director, Jon Lansman.

Mr Lansman made clear his anger with the way Labour's ruling national executive came up with its compromise position on Brexit.

He tweeted: "I'm completely supportive of Jeremy's leadership but I’m incredibly disappointed with the process by which today’s NEC statement on Brexit was produced. There was no meeting, no discussion, no consultation with the membership.

"On one of the biggest issues of the day, this is a travesty. Across the membership there are many different views on Brexit, and on conference floor members should feel free to vote with their conscience."