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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Corbyn sacking of shadow minister highlights his ambivalence over Brexit

There is no better example of why those opposed to us leaving the EU cannot trust Labour to stand up and fight for the anti-Brexit cause than the sacking of the Shadow Northern Ireland Minister, Owen Smith by Jeremy Corbyn yesterday.

As the Guardian reports, Smith was dismissed from his frontbench role after breaking with Labour policy to call for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. The paper adds that Corbyn is believed to have taken the decision on the basis that Smith had not been a team player, and had repeatedly breached shadow cabinet collective responsibility on Brexit, including by calling for Britain to remain in the single market.

Owen Smith was absolutely right when he wrote in the Guardian on Friday, that the Labour party can only “serve democracy” by recommending a poll on the Brexit deal. “Labour needs to do more than just back a soft Brexit or guarantee a soft border in Ireland,” he argued. “We have the right to ask if Brexit remains the right choice for the country. And to ask, too, that the country has a vote on whether to accept the terms and true costs of that choice once they are clear.”

Corbyn has always been ambivalent on Brexit, but yesterday's sacking is a clear policy statement. Labour does not and cannot represent the views of those who want to stay in Europe. The only UK-wide party that takes a clear anti-Brexit position is the Liberal Democrats and those who want the people to have a final say on any deal should get behind us if they want to be part of an effective campaign for such a plebiscite.
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