Today ITV’s Robert Peston has claimed that a letter from Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa May on Brexit was edited by LOTO (the opposition leader’s office) to remove a threat that “if you do not accept this [offer] there will be a People’s Vote”.
Peston went on to say that Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer is unhappy about the change and that:
“even erstwhile Corbyn loyalists are becoming grumpy at what they see as his refusal to follow the revealed will of Labour members and supporters that their should be a referendum“
Of course, even if the claim is true the threat “there will be a People’s Vote” would have been empty, as there is no majority in Parliament for a new referendum even if Labour were to back it – as humiliated centrists found out to the cost of their credibility recently.
Just as importantly, Corbyn is absolutely entitled to edit a letter that is going out in his name – but the claim that it is the ‘revealed will of Labour members and supporters‘ does not stand up to scrutiny either.
While it’s true that many Labour voters would like to see a so-called “people’s vote”, those who support Corbyn’s approach to Brexit far outnumber those who object – and fewer than one in ten who oppose feel strongly about it.
Working out in practice
That support for Corbyn’s Brexit approach is working out at the grassroots level. Last month, ‘centrist’ Neil Coyle wrote a pro-‘PV’ article attacking party chair Ian Lavery and claiming members ‘overwhelmingly’ want a new referendum – and was humiliated when the SKWAWKBOX revealed not even his own local members do.
Now more CLPs (constituency Labour parties) are making their own feelings on the matter clear.
Last week, Bristol West CLP held a vote on a motion supporting another referendum – and another on ‘remaining and reforming’ – staying in the EU and trying to change it from within.
Bristol was one of the most ‘remain’ areas of England outside London – but both motions were defeated by substantial majorities.
Members present report that during a comradely discussion, there was a general recognition that to back it as a party would be ineffective gesture politics given the balance of votes in Parliament.
At about the same time, Birmingham Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff was defending his voting record on Brexit – against the Labour leadership’s whip – to local members. He failed.
A motion calling on Godsiff to obey the leadership’s whip was carried overwhelmingly, with almost ninety percent of members supporting.
A different motion, backing Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for Brexit and calling on Godsiff to support the leadership’s ‘approach and principles’ – with no mention of another referendum – was opposed by only four of the members present. It states:
This CLP supports the efforts or Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership to negotiate on softer and better terms for Brexit with Theresa May based on the following principles:
1. Complete opposition to a ‘No Deal’ exit
2. customs union to
a) address the Irish border question
b) facilitate as frictionless trade as possible
3. at least equivalent standards to the EU on issues such as employment rights, environmental protection and food standards.
We call upon our MP Roger Godsiff to support Jeremy Corbyn and his team on these efforts and to be guided by this approach and princlples in future votes in the House of Commons.
Peston on Labour?
ITV’s political editor Robert Peston has had a problematic relationship with Labour’s current position and politics. Earlier this month, for example, he was propagating reports that Labour had suffered a huge fall in membership – a notion already debunked, with Labour’s membership still steady on what it had been just before New Year and well above the figures reported:
Quoting similar Labour sources to his ‘amended letter’ claim today, in November last year claimed that Corbyn was about to turn Labour into “the champion of… [a] People’s Vote“:
According to senior Labour sources, Corbyn is close to agreeing that shortly (days) after the loss of the meaningful vote by May, he would formally make his party the champion of another referendum or People’s Vote – on the basis that if there is no consensus in parliament on what comes next, the question has to go back to the people.Robert Peston November 2018 (Spectator and Facebook)
No such move was imminent, of course – Corbyn stuck to Labour’s longstanding policy of pursuing the downfall of the Tory government and initiating a general election.
You’d think Mr Peston would be a little more cautious about the reliability of his ‘Labour sources’ by now.
But he is merely symptomatic of the UK’s so-called ‘mainstream media’, which has resolutely ignored strong and still mounting evidence that Labour members and voters believe Corbyn and his team are taking the right approach to the difficult issue of Brexit – and rejecting the idea of Labour ‘championing’ a new referendum.
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