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Labour are a Brexit party

April 30, 2019

Labour have let down Remainers again. Their national executive committee backed lifelong Eurosceptic Jeremy Corbyn by giving only qualified support to another referendum. Instead of giving full support for a public vote on the government’s deal versus Remain they offer only a vote to stop “a bad Tory Brexit” as one of the “options on the table” if they can’t trigger a general election. They are serving up the same fudge that was cooked at Labour’s conference last year.

Remainers have been giving Labour the benefit of the doubt for the last three years since the referendum. This is despite Corbyn refusing to join cross party campaigning in that referendum, being “present but not involved” in making the case for Remain, to use one of his own phrases.

In the 2017 general election Labour racked up massive majorities in urban Remain constituencies, including the one I used to represent. Tens of thousands of Liberal Democrat and Green Party supporters lent their votes to Labour, assuming that Labour would work to stop Brexit. I was surprised by this assumption at the time, given that Labour’s manifesto made no pledge to overturn Brexit and the party was led by a man who had spent decades opposing Britain’s integration with the rest of Europe.

In the intervening two years that benefit of the doubt has often seemed to me to be more blind faith that Labour would eventually do the right thing and come out for another referendum. When it looked as though people might have rumbled them or run out of patience, a few warm words from Keir Starmer or Tom Watson calmed them down. Even Tony Blair was reduced to encouraging Watson, the man he obliged to resign from his government for plotting against his leadership.

When eight Labour MPs jumped ship (though only partly over Europe) more encouraging noises eminated from the shadow cabinet to steady the nerves of those who might have been tempted to follow them. But surely now the game is up? It must now be obvious to everyone that Labour has no intention of giving full throttled support to a second referendum. Labour might want to stop a Tory Brexit but only so they can substitute their own softer version.

Labour must now be considered as Britain’s fourth Brexit party. They join the originals UKIP, the custodians Tories and the upstart defenders in Farage’s new outfit.

This leaves three strong Remain parties in England, plus the SNP and Plaid Cymru. The Liberal Democrats are the biggest, strongest and most consistent of the Remain parties. My party and its Liberal Party predecessor has supported Britain’s place as a positive member of the EEC and the EU since before I was born. It’s support has never wavered, when all other parties have had periods of open hostility to Britain’s membership. The party has always been united on the issue, while the Tories, Labour and the Green Party have been divided.

Remainers who trusted Labour in 2017 now need a new political home. The next few weeks give them two chances to show their disgust with Labour. In the local elections this Thursday the Liberal Democrats look set to continue their local government revival, with pundits predicting big gains. Three weeks later Remainers should unite behind the Liberal Demcrats to maximise the number of hard Remain candidates elected to the European Parliament. The Green Party and ChangeUK may also support Remain but they lack the strength on the ground to mount a significant challenge to the Brexit parties.

The Liberal Democrats have taken an electoral battering for mistakes, both perceived and real, during the coalition years. But Brexit is the defining issue of our times and the Liberal Democrats have stood firm on the right side. Hundreds of new councillors and a group of new MEPs will revive the party and give a voice to millions of people let down by Labour. They will also work hard to build strong local communities and a positive future for Britain in Europe.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. paul permalink
    May 1, 2019 7:27 am

    They’re all Brexit Parties except for the Greens and SNP, I was ready to vote Lib Dem in the Euros (I’d vowed never to vote LD after how they ran Bristol City Council for that brief period) then they came out with the 2nd referendum nonsense.

    Until MPs can start fulfilling the code they actually sign up for, which is to do what’s in the best interest of the nation, I won’t be voting for anyone. I won’t vote for the crazy anti-science Greens and can’t vote for the SNP. I’ve voted at every election for the past 30 years taken my time to engage with candidates and policies, but not anymore.All the Parties are more concerned with chasing the thick leave voter, the sort that doesn’t normally vote and believes what they read in the Daily Express, good luck with that.

    • May 1, 2019 9:44 am

      This reads as though you are a Remainer…but won’t vote for the strongest pro Remain party? I’m not sure I follow your logic!

      • paul permalink
        May 1, 2019 2:07 pm

        The Lib Dems aren’t pro remain they’re pro having a 2nd referendum on maybe remaining or maybe something else.

        If your policy was to revoke A50, then that would be pro remain.

  2. paul permalink
    May 3, 2019 9:25 am

    Lib Dems did really well yesterday, haven’t really looked at the analysis but a vote for remain?

    If we make the Euro’s I will come out and vote Lib Dem, despite my earlier rantings (I still can’t really believe its happening & not doing Social Media, BTLs or knowing anyone that’s even remotely interested in it, my frustration does rather build up). However one potential huge downside the odds are now 1/5 on a Brexit deal going through this Month.

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