The various Brexit-related motions submitted to Labour’s conference have been ‘composited’ down to a single version that will be debated and voted upon by delegates – and it contains a landmine for the party that will damage its electoral prospects and provide an open goal for its enemies if it is passed.
The wording of the motion as it currently stands is:
If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. If the Government is confident in
negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit
from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.
“Labour must support all options remaining on the table” ties the party’s hands and commits it to supporting an anti-Brexit or second referendum strategy – which would cause huge damage in pro-leave northern towns that Labour needs to win in order to oust the most malignant Tory government in living memory.
For Labour to commit itself to such a position now would incredibly politically foolish, providing the Tories with an immediate release valve for the pressure their Brexit incompetence has built up on them and offering a simple distraction: “Look, we might be disastrous at Brexit but Labour want to block it altogether!”
Labour’s position up to now – holding all options open and allowing the Tories to implode – remains exactly the right one, for both the party and a country that desperately needs Labour government. Jeremy Corbyn has played it exactly right.
Whether innocently or intentionally, a huge landmine has been planted in the motion as it stands.
The first version ties the leadership’s hands – and does so long before necessary even for those opposed to Brexit. The second frees the leadership to keep its powder dry and to react in the best way to each situation as it evolves.
The second gets Labour into government. The first is a free gift to a floundering Tory party.
The motion as it stands will go to the conference floor. It’s essential that it doesn’t pass, so that delegates can avoid a needless and hugely-damaging misstep.
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