Five resignations over Brexit vote show Labour, at least, still does politics with honour

Five Labour front-benchers have resigned after breaking the whip to vote against ‘quitter group’ MP Sarah Wollaston’s attempt to piggy-back a new referendum on the motion to extend Article 50


Five Labour front-benchers resigned on Thursday evening after voting against ‘tinge group’ MP Sarah Wollaston’s ill-fated and ill-judged amendment that tried to push a new referendum through Parliament on the back of a motion to postpone the UK’s departure from the EU. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had instructed Labour MPs to abstain, knowing it would be defeated in any event.

Some of the MPs resigned voluntarily, others were asked to by Corbyn. All of them demonstrated that Labour still conducts politics with honour, in spite of the Tories’ years-long degradation of democracy and the and undermining of parliamentary process and convention.

From the repeated failures of Cameron and May to sack incompetent or corrupt ministers, to refusals of the same to resign, to the underhand and desperate manoeuvres to ignore ‘pairing’ even for maternity leave to win tight votes, the Tories have continually debased our democracy to the point where it is barely recognisable.

But Labour – and Corbyn its leader – still operate on the principles of honour and decency that used to be considered central to the UK’s democracy and government, but no longer apply in the minds of the Tories.

And having demonstrated that, Corbyn must now make any further votes on the issue of a referendum a ‘conscience’ matter in which MPs are free to vote as the feel they should.

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    1. Never mind I’ve looked it up for myself
      The first to go was the infamous Ruth Smeeth – I’m not sure how much her ‘support’ for JC will be missed

      The others were Justin Madders, Emma Lewell-Buck, Yvonne Fovargue and Stephanie Peacock

      1. I hadn’t clocked that Ruth Smeeth was closely associated with Watson – as PPS.

        A direct link to the Israel lobby.

  1. I’ve heard people questioning why Labour is so far behind in the polls when the Tories are in melt down. We saw an example of why tonight.

    Despite the excuse that this was the wrong moment, on the contrary it was an ideal time. We know that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and that any form of Brexit will harm the country, yet Labour still persists in pushing its deal rather than honouring its Conference commitment to go for a people’s vote if all else fails. All else HAS patently failed and Labour should have taken this opportunity to support going back to the people.

    We will never be forgiven for facilitating Brexit and will suffer enormously for it whenever a GE occurs if we don’t see sense.

    1. Sorry Jack T but I disagree , there maybe still some miles to go before all else has failed . There is time now with the extension of Brexshit for a potential LEXIT being forced onto May by cross party co-operation at MP level, excluding May’s Cabinet .
      Perhaps the scenario might be May told to Accept the Lexit or some version of it or will be challenged for Leadership .She might just be that vindictively stubborn to call a GE instead , as a parting shot to her now ruined party.
      But as far as I am concerned Corbyn , with the way things are collapsing in the Tory Party , has played this just right to help allow them to implode and still look honourable and statesman like.

      1. Rob, Labour was the ‘remain’ Party, so where should we get the bulk of our voters from in another election, remain or leave supporters? It should obviously be from remain supporters including the overwhelmingly remain supporting young voters voting for the first time.

        So what happens when Labour now says it wants to leave? Remain voters will leave us in droves, probably by not voting at all because they have nowhere to go.

        Having any form of leave policy will absolutely kill any chance of a Labour victory at the next GE.

      2. Jack I know Labours position was remain , and understand your point and I really wish it was that clear and simple , but the majority of Lab Constituencies voted to leave.That may or may not have changed but those that voted Leave may also not vote Labour if it pushes a Remain Referendum , there lies the dilemma .
        BTW I voted to remain and whatever the result of Brexit WILL VOTE LABOUR because I know that they will do the best for me and not some 1%er.

        However one looks at the Referendums legitimacy all the lies ,lies and more lies that should have been dealt with at the time , they were not , and that is a salutary lesson to the electorate about being politically ignorant and naive , the fact that it was nominally only a indicative non binding referendum but has been taken as binding is also of concern .

        BUT , it has taken place the result was leave and my fear would be to have another referendum would deal in the public’s mind a sever blow to our already hammered democracy ( keep voting till you give the right answer syndrome ) .

        Seeing the utter destruction that is now engulfing the Tories ( good ) and May’s authority , which is zero , and her continued insanity of coming back to the House with vote after vote after vote until she gets the one she wants ( her deal) , is testament as to what I fear would happen to our democracy’s creditability ,,,,, shattered .
        Even if we were able to achieve a LEXIT I am not sure that that should be put back to the public as a referendum on it , because if the public then rejects it ,,,,, what next .
        Go for yet another Ref on Leave or Stay , and what if its a very close result , again , ? Do you make voting on the Ref compulsory to all those that can vote , do you set percentages to indicate a clear majority say 60/40 or 80/20% ?

        It to me is now one hell of a can of worms , and Labour and Corbyn have done a dam good job along with our COnf decisions that lead to our policy on it .
        I guess that by giving a Referendum on LEXIT and if that was rejected , then at least by then all options would have been debated , tested and tried before going back to a simple Leave or Stay Ref . Like I said IMO I feel there is some way to go yet before a simple Leave or Stay Ref.

    2. Labour will never be forgiven for facilitating a PV also. Politically, It’s a rock and a hard place scenario that needs compromise, something the Tories don’t want. The best outcome has happened it’s been delayed for now. A no deal, hard Brexit or May’s abomination would be the real betrayal and that so far ani’t happening thanks to Corbyn and his front bench.

      1. I have to disagree with you, I believe Labour is and continues to do as Conference bid.

    3. If by some highly unlikely freak chance the amendment for a new referendum had passed, the Tories would then have whipped hard to oppose the main motion. If that had then been lost, that would have been the instruction to seek an extension gone as well as the new referendum.

      By leaving the request for an extension unencumbered with the PV, there was a massive majority for the extension.

      That is why trying to hook the PV onto THIS motion was tactically naive and dangerous.

    4. How can you slate Labour for this “missed opportunity” when the PV campaigners themselves voted against?

      The reason Labour are behind (and we never hear about them being anything but) is that whilst Mrs Liar Mayhem leads a government in contempt, and a daily car crash in general, there is never any anger or blame directed at them.

      That’s because they know a government under Corbyn is a very real and present danger to them, and their cosy little self-serving system will come to an abrupt stop if that happens.

      THAT’S why, for the last 3 years, and especially now, we have tumble weed for Tory failures and any opportunity to sling mud at Corbyn or his supporters is relished and maximised.

    5. If Labour spits in the face of 17.4 million voters the Tories will stay in power.

      You want remain more than a Labour government. You’re not Labour, Jack T.

      1. There won’t be anything like 17.4 million voters for leave in another referendum. Many will now have realised they were conned and the young will vote remain.

        Your last remark is ignorant.

      2. ” You’re not Labour, Jack T.”

        More deluded than ‘ignorant’.

        It’s back to the image of the Labour Party (an overwhelming majority who voted ‘Remain’) as a little niche sect talking to each other in a small, echoing room.

        Hardly the vision of progressive transformation.

    6. Jack T., I agree with you. I am against Lexit as much as against Brexit. A vote by population is needed, as now loads of info is out there, and people realise the damage that is being done, will be done.
      I share the view of TSSA Manuel Cortes (remain and reform). Those shouting loudest for brexit will in all likelyhood not be around to see the consequences. And I do not think that without jobs, trade, there will be no money around to finance JC’s policies.
      And I think the brown stuff has hit the fan already. It is now high time to go for a public vote on the issue see Jack T’s comment above.

      1. Sabine , @ I share the view of TSSA Manuel Cortes (remain and reform).
        Yes that indeed would be the absolutely the most sensible desired outcome. I’d support that in an instance , however ,the EU has shown and proven itself to be a mighty and unified block and I really don’t think the UK would stand the proverbial cat in hells chance of getting it to change to become more socialist in outlook.Thats why IMO Corbyn is against being in it for the present. He has though been quietly courting opinion and building support for change with our sister socialist organisations in the EU . That might be a battle post Brexit with a view IMO to rejoin at a date when it become obvious that the great experiment has failed and it needs to change to represent the people more than just the Big Business that the EU does at present .

    7. “Labour so far behind in the polls”?

      Not according to Survation, who supposedly have Labour 7 points ahead!

      1. Errr … apart from the fact that any single poll is a poor indicator – where’s that result? Mid Feb to mid-March polls tend to have the Tories consistently ahead, even allowing for error margins.

        Disregarding minor lead figures, the point is that Labour needs to be doing consistently much better, given the shit-fest that is the Tory Party.

        Compare the position in 2017.


    1. You say that as if this WAS a chance. You did see how many Labour MPs voted against when whipped to abstain, didn’t you? This never had a hope in hell of passing, and even the pro-EU groups campaigning for a People’s Vote said that this vote should not have happened.

  2. I’m afraid you’re clutching at straws Steve. Had this been an example of uniformly applied party discipline across the board nobody from the front bench who attended Twatson’s grubby meeting would still be there and indeed Watson would have been suspended. Hodge would be suspended. Chris Williamson would not have been suspended. This, sadly, in the current situation represents a further concession to the right; these are decent, mostly loyal, mostly left, good constituency MPs who respect their voters’ wishes. I’ve just had a message this morning saying that the rightwing chair of one of these MP’s CLP will now use this to move against them.

    1. Sorry, Danny – but that’s not electoral ‘analysis’ – it’s a Brexiteer working towards a predetermined distortion. As I’ve said – ‘dilettante Marxism’ that construes ‘class’ as a value judgment rather than an economic fact.

      The working class (however defined) has no inherent wisdom more than any other class. But the majority of working class Labour voters – who we might back as having some insight into the effect of class – voted ‘Remain’.

      The more typical Brexit voter was actually the aging moderately well-off in southern England.

  3. Lest we forget, even if EVERY Labour MP had voted for a PV, the amendment would still have been lost. This was a stunt – no more, no less – from the Dead Centre Party, trying to put themselves on the map.
    A PV is probably not the answer anyway – it’ll result in another 52/48 or 48/52 – and an extension is no answer either – it’l;l just give Mrs May another clock to run down.

  4. “Some of the MPs resigned voluntarily, others were asked to by Corbyn. All of them demonstrated that Labour still conducts politics with honour,”

    Despite everything, I had to laugh at this one.

    I’ve looked at it. I’ve smelled it. And despite the polish, it remains a steaming turd.

    Indeed, this amendment would not have passed, but that can’t disguise the fact that Labour, in the public eye, is all over the place – literally
    – abstaining, in favour and against. ‘Whassit all about, Alfie?’ is the question asked.

    This non-exclusive list is hardly a role of honour :

    Ruth Smeeth, Caroline Flint, Kate Hoey, John Mann and Gareth Snell.

    – and then there are those on the shadow front bench of whom the kindest question is ‘Who?’

    The fact is that parliament, like the country is irredeemably split over this not-very-clever Tory cunning plot. Anyone who thinks that the referendum result provided a clear directive is either innumerate or batting for the ERG and UKIP. It was a split vote, with a *minority* in favour of leaving the EU – not a constitutional command.

    I’m not much in favour of a second referendum in principle – but I fail to see any other way out of this unholy shit-fest – other than the unilateral abandonment of a stupid idea that three years has simply proved to be so, no matter how many rattles are exited from the pram by the noisy baby that is Brexit.

    Last night’s result is irrelevant in the nursery game that is the HoC. The problem for Labour is when to go for real credibility by stating the obvious. In my view, it has depended on the Tory self-destruct model for too long, and needs to distinguish (in both senses of the word) itself as a Party by aligning explicitly with the instincts of the large majority of its members. It’s a bit late – but one lives in hope – a bit more substantial than the fictional; ‘majority’ waiting in the guise of erstwhile Kippers.

    After all, that’s why – in general – Corbyn was elected..Perhaps a poll of the membership is appropriate in this interregnum. Why concede to the Squitters the most obvious good tune?

  5. Labour are facing a minefield. I live in NE – 3 out of 4 constituencies Leave constituencies. Facing absolute slating of through all local groups from locals.
    And then Remainiacs slating Labour too!
    It’s a tight rope.
    Leave won the Referendum
    The ONLY solution is the compromise Brexit with CU proposed by labour. I just hope it’s not as BINO as May’s deal.
    Corbyn playing a blinder.

    1. “Leave won the Referendum”

      1. Not by any sane definition. it was supported by a bit more than a 1/3rd minority vote. No serious constitutional reform goes ahead on that basis. Except in no-banana republics. Or a monarchy that is bananas.

      2. That was a while ago, before a lot of things were known, and excluded significant proportions of the potential electorate. Time for a reassessment.

      3. There is no ‘compromise’ in a binary choice.

  6. Now that more of the dire consequences of leaving are evident are 3 out of 4 constituencies still supporting leave?

    You are supporting slashing one wrist instead of two.

    1. Of course, there will be shouts of ‘Snot fair’ – based on the origins of these analyses (always play the man when you can’t score). But there’s some interesting patterns on show – not least the fact that – as I’ve previously said – the idea of the archetypal ‘Leave’ constituency as northern and working class is a myth. There’s much more conflicting dynamics at work, and the large majority are rural, with a hefty population of the relatively well off.

      The idea of Brexit as simply a ‘working class’, focused revolt stands up to scrutiny like a drunk with legs of rubber.

      1. If you haven’t seen it already you may find this an interesting insight into the mentality of Tory members. The difference between this survey and the ‘Love Corbyn – Hate Brexit’ survey of Labour members on the same site.

        “New survey of Conservative Party members and voters offers little hope that they’ll help the PM persuade her MPs to support her Withdrawal Agreement
        If Theresa May is hoping that her MPs will return to Westminster having been persuaded by their Constituency Associations to back her Brexit deal, she’s going to be disappointed. Our ESRC-sponsored Party Members Project, run out of Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University, has just surveyed 1215 ordinary Conservative Party members, together with a representative sample of 1675 voters. It appears that those members are in no mood for compromise.
        Some 72% of grassroots Tory members, compared to 68% of current Tory voters, voted Leave in 2016 – testimony to David Cameron’s crucial failure in the run up to the EU referendum to convince even his own activists, let alone the country, to back his stance. Where he was then, Theresa May is today.
        It would be fair to say that the Tory grassroots are, if not obsessed, then consumed by Brexit. We asked all voters to list the three most important issues facing the country, and 60% of them ranked Brexit number one. That figure rises to 68% among Tory voters and a whopping 75% among Tory members. And they haven’t changed their minds on the merits of leaving the EU. Some 79% of Conservative Party members think voters made the right decision in the 2016 referendum – and that includes a quarter (26%) of the (23%) minority of them who voted Remain two-and-a-half years ago; 97% of those who themselves voted Leave maintain the country made the right call.

      2. Yes. It is interesting.

        “[Tory] members are convinced by a margin of 64% to 19% that leaving without a deal would have a positive rather than a negative effect on Britain’s economy in the medium to long term.”

        … seems a reflection of what an atypical group of a dwindling organisation Tory Party members are. Yet these are pulling the government’s strings.

        I reckon that backers of Lexit should coinsider what an odd lot they are aligning with.

        And once again, we see that, in contrast, Labour Party members are aligned with Labour voters – and a large proportion of the population in heavily supporting ‘Remain’. It’s the PLP that looks somewhat less than coherent.

        Time to get the ducks in line. I hope it’s not too late.

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