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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Open revolt in Labour over Brexit

It has not been a good week for the Labour leadership and their determination to back Theresa May and the Tories in securing a no compromise exit from the European Community.

Two days ago 83 Labour peers defied an order to abstain and instead walked into the lobbies with the Liberal Democrats to help pass an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill saying that remaining in the EEA (the European Economic Area) should be a government Brexit negotiating objective.

And today, the Independent reports that five MPs from the Labour party’s northern heartlands have broken ranks and openly demanded a new referendum on the UK’s withdrawal deal:

The MPs from the Northeast – which heavily backed Leave in the 2016 referendum – said a new vote is essential because the true nature of Brexit is only just emerging.

Writing exclusively for The Independent, they warn plans to leave the single market will devastate family living standards as the future of major manufacturers and employers in their region is thrown into doubt.

Their intervention comes amid rising anger over Mr Corbyn’s failure to seize a chance to force Theresa May into keeping Britain in the single market – despite it also potentially collapsing her government and creating an opportunity to win power.

Labour’s current position is that it “respects” the 2016 referendum, that Britain’s EU membership must end and that the country should leave the single market and customs union to negotiate new relationships to replace them.

But with most projections showing the UK worse off outside the EU’s existing structures, the five northeast MPs have decided to publicly contradict their leader’s position and call for a “people’s vote” on the eventual deal.

Surely, it is time that Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership team abandoned their unthinking support of the Tory position on Brexit and got behind the Liberal Democrats as well, in their call for a confirmatory referendum.
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