Anger as Scottish Labour bosses block Brexit vote at party conference

Posted On: 
8th March 2018

Scottish Labour bosses have blocked a crunch vote on the party's Brexit policy amid claims they were heading for an embarrassing defeat.

Richard Leonard has blocked a vote on the single market.
PA Images

Pro-EU MPs believed they were set to win the vote, which would have taken place at its party conference this weekend, on keeping the UK in the single market.

That would have marked a major split between Scottish Labour and the party's UK-wide policy, which is that Britain cannot stay in the trading bloc after Brexit.

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But STV revealed last night that Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has ensured that the vote will not now take place.

Instead, the party's ruling executive council has produced a bland statement committing it to supporting the policy being pursued by Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer.

One Scottish Labour source told PoliticsHome: "For months, Labour party members have been debating this in their local branch meetings. More than ten CLPs (constituency Labour parties) put forward motions backing the single market to conference. Many of those were accepted for debate.

"Sunday should be the culmination of that grassroots movement for members to have their say in a healthy, democratic debate. Now it appears those voting rights have been ripped away from ordinary members at the last minute by the leadership.

"It's the SNP which treats its members with disdain; it should never be our party - the party of democratic socialism."

The row has echoes of a similar bust-up at last September's UK Labour conference, where a debate on changing the party's Brexit policy was also blocked.

It is also a major embarrassment for Mr Corbyn, who will today tell the conference in Dundee that Scottish Labour is "alive and kicking" again after taking six seats off the SNP at last year's general electiion.

"This time last year there were more than a few people in the media who had written the Labour Party off. In Scotland we were told that Labour was dying,” he will say.

“The truth is that we very much are alive and kicking. Labour in Scotland is back."