Anger as Labour row over Brexit vote bursts onto conference hall floor

Posted On: 
25th September 2017

A furious Labour member today told fellow activists they had “voted away your chance to stop Brexit” as the row over an obscure voting procedure burst onto the conference hall floor.

Labour conference
Credit: 
PA Images

Cameron Glack took the stage and said Labour had allowed top Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis to “do what they want with Brexit”.

Yesterday members voted against holding a separate debate on Brexit that would have allowed campaigners to trigger a vote on changing the party’s policy.

Labour has insisted last year’s referendum vote must be respected and committed to taking Britain out of the customs union and single market – meaning freedom of movement would end.

A powerful coalition of unions, Labour moderates and Momentum members has been calling on the party to change tack and campaign to stay in the Single Market.

But Momentum and other trade unionists urged delegates to back a list of other issues for topical policy debates – seemingly in a bid to swerve embarrassment for Jeremy Corbyn.

But Grantham and Stanford member Mr Glack declared today: “Yesterday you voted away your chance to remain in the single market.

“You voted away your chance to stay in the EU. You voted against your chance to stop this disastrous Brexit.”

To a mix of groans and applause - indicating the huge split on the issue in the hall – he said: “We will be remembered as the opposition that let the Tories do what they want with Brexit.

“We have let Boris Johnson, we have let David Davis get away with what they want in the European Union. We have no ability [big groans] to stop them.”

But immediately following him on stage, Jean Roberts from Brent Central CLP hit back: “Don’t demonise those of us who voted for Brexit… We have to accept the majority voted for Brexit.”

Thomas Haynes from Stroud also argued Labour should make the case for continued EU membership, while another delegate said it should campaign to stay in the customs union and single market.

But Daryl Tells from Hove said members had “as much chance of stopping Brexit as Jeremy Corbyn has of wearing my Tottenham shirt” – noting the Labour leader’s support for Arsenal.

A string of pro-EU Labour MPs condemned the decision not to put the party's Brexit stance to a conference vote.

However a Momentum spokesperson told PoliticsHome that Brexit was already getting air time at the conference and the group wanted to prioritise other domestic issues.