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Monday, September 25, 2017

Labour duck debate on Brexit and remains committed to leaving single market

It didn't take long for the Corbyn faction at the Labour Conference to block any discussion about the Brexit elephant in the room. The party remains deeply split over the issue with the leadership at odds with the millions of pro-EU voters who supported them in June's General Election.

As the Guardian reports, Labour campaigners had hoped to debate the idea of Labour fighting to keep Britain in the single market permanently and continue free movement, which polls suggest enjoy widespread support among members. However, when it came to a vote the Conference ducked the issue altogether.

The paper says that Momentum, the grassroots pro-Corbyn group, was thought to be highly influential in the result of the ballot because it emailed members to recommend four topics that were chosen. The decision to leave Brexit off the list was justified by insisting that the conference would debate and vote on EU policy on Monday, but this will not include the more controversial motions.

As if to add insult to injury to remainers, Jeremy Corbyn made it clear that he was wary of committing to remaining within Europe’s internal market because it could prevent Labour putting in place domestic policy in the future.

The paper say that shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer will use a speech today to claim that Labour are the “grownups in the room” on Brexit and must stand ready to “take charge of the negotiations”.

They add that he will argue that Labour will respect the referendum result but put the economy first and be clear that it remains an “internationalist party; reaching out to Europe and the rest of the world rather than turning inwards”.

There is nothing grown-up about avoiding debate on the main issue of the day, or failing to take a clear position on a potentially economy-busting exit from the single market. I cannot think of a better example of turning inwards.

Of course, there are some who will argue that austerity, housing, the health service and social care are far more important topics to discuss than Brexit. They may well be right. However, leaving the EU will decimate many of those services by crippling the economy and public finances for years. If Labour cannot see that connection then it is little wonder that they are so ineffectual as an opposition.
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