Breaking: defeat of all 4 ‘indicative motions’ in spite of no Tory whip makes GE the ONLY viable option

Failure of every alternative even when the government has not whipped Tory MPs means a general election is now the only viable route forward

The results of tonight’s ‘indicative votes’, in which all motions were defeated:

  • customs union 273-276
  • Common Market 2.0 261-282
  • ‘confirmatory referendum’ 280-292
  • revocation of Article 50 191-292

Twice now MPs have been whipped to back referendum options, in accordance with Labour’s conference policy – and twice those options have been defeated even though Theresa May gave Tory MPs a free vote.

Twice Jeremy has done everything his enemies asked of him.

Twice Tom Watson’s option received the full backing of Labour’s leadership.

On each and every occasion those options were still defeated – there is simply no support for a new referendum in Parliament as it is currently constituted.

The nearest to a successful vote tonight was Ken Clarke’s customs union option, which echoes Labour’s Brexit deal welcomed by the EU as ‘heavenly’.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Tonight’s votes proved only that the sole way forward for the UK out of this Tory-made mess is a general election.

There can be no more pandering to anti-democratic centrists or terrified Tories. There must now be a general election – and any MP who wishes even to pretend to have the best interests of the country at heart must support a vote of no confidence when Labour brings it.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. I do hope now that the people will see these tiggers for what they are. They want to confirm any deal but refuse again to vote for any deal. If they had one would have won tonight. Labour should now drop this referendum nonsense.

    1. Unless they want to commit electoral suicide why would Labour want to go against its own unanimously agreed conference motion and also reject the the clearly expressed views of the vast majority of both its members and voters.

  2. Skwarwkbox “there is simply no support for a new referendum in Parliament as it is currently constituted”

    Skwarwky spinning a case for Leave again!
    If sixteen so called Labour MPs hadn’t abstained but supported our conference resolution instead, we would easily have had a majority for another vote!

    1. Precisely. It’s sad to see the SNP (‘Maggy’s little helpers’) running rings round Labour in terms of a coherent opposition narrative.

      1. The SNP abstained on the Clarke customs union plan that would have prevented a hard Brexit. Your comment is nonsense – Labour’s the reason the government is collapsing, which is Labour’s main responsibility to bring about.

      2. The ‘Custom’s Union’ motion was a ‘plan’ with massiive holes. It’s only use was to flag up that every ‘compromise’ leaves the country in a worse place than the status quo.

        My comment about the SNP is that they are clear on basic facts like these. Labour isn’t.

    2. Just having a few MPs making a majority for reversing the referendum does not make it happen of course. The Government has to introduce the legislation. There is no signs that its form will suit the reversors. In addition the electoral Commission will have some input on its construction with the most likely necessity for a leave option given the probable 30% minimum certainty of its vote and following its previous success..

    3. These are the Labour Frontbench MPs who abstained on the Confirmatory Public Vote

      Shadow Ministers
      Julie Cooper, Judith Cummins, Gloria de Piero, Carolyn Harris, Mike Kane, Liz McInnes, Jim McMahon, Jo Platt & Paula Sherriff

      Shadow Cabinet Members
      Ian Lavery and Jon Trickett.

    4. It’s not ‘spinning for leave’, it’s recognising reality. “There is simply no support for a new referendum in Parliament as it is currently constituted” – aren’t the sixteen ‘so called Labour MPs’, as you put it, part of ‘no support in Parliament’?

      “If those MPs had voted differently we’d have won” is a classic case of ‘if my aunt was a man she’d be my uncle’.

      1. Quite right , in both your counter comments to RH’s and Steve H’s usual tiresome baloney, Skwawkbox. It is very, very, unfortunate that a tiny grouping of just four (or even less, using multiple identities) obsessive (or paid) 24/7 Remainer Trolls have turned the previously useful comments section of Skwawkbox into a tiresome, utterly predictable, echo chamber for the Guardianista Liberal misrepresentation of the nature of the EU, and arrogant dismissal of both the 2016 majority for Leave, and the commitment ALL Labour MPs made in our 2017 Labour Manifesto to “respect the outcome of the Referendum”. The same tiny Troll group’s constant obsessive postings on “anti-Semitism /Zionism” also suggests strongly that their actual sole purpose is simply to sow discord on the Left, rather than putting forward a genuinely held position

      2. How’s the weather on Planet Zog today, Ha’penny?

        However, you do perform a useful function in providing a compendium of what is patent nonsense – a sort of beacon on the rocks of brain-dead idea and delusions.

  3. What a f’ing shambles.

    General election? The current PLP can’t even land a glove on the government when given the opportunity like this, so May walks once more, courtesy of the ‘Get Out of Gaol Free’ cards handed over by Labour supporters.

    Barmy Brexit stumbles on its drunken way, mumbling incoherently.

    1. You’re falling into exactly the same convenient logical fallacy as the Tingers. Labour’s job is *not* to ‘stop Brexit’. It’s to get into government for the good of all, Brexit or no Brexit. The stop-Brexit obsession would prevent Labour doing its main job. As for ‘can’t land a glove’, you seem to have fallen for the other logical fallacy that the Tories’ collapse is all just happening, rather than because Corbyn has outmanoeuvred May consistently.

      1. Sorry -but you’re whistling in the dark.

        I agree that the chance of getting any sensible resolution in this parliament is unlikely. But, of course Labour’s strategic aim should have been to ‘stop Brexit’. Otherwise it’s not an opposition to a far-right Tory idea that has alienated half the nation. But it chose to follow the essential Tory line and the nonsense spouted about the sanctity of the referendum, and thus has let opposition go begging in any meaningful sense. I agree with you that it is probably too late for a rescue.

        And, no, this isn’t irrelevant to the implementation of social policies – which depend upon a functioning economy that has heaped additional handicaps on itself.

        Which is why not only myself, but millions of prospective Labour voters, are frustrated at the lack of distinction in Labour’s policy – which is *not* a marvel of tactics and strategy if it enables a fundamental Tory policy.

        I understand the loyalty thing – I’ve been a Party member for a long time. But It’s the leadership that hasn’t supported the Party – not the other way round. It’s sad after enduring the Blair years.

      2. Quite right on all points Skwawkbox. But debating with the tiny grouping off constant pro Remain Trolls on here as if they are genuine is a mistake. They (or probably a couple of Trolls with multiple identities) are just undercover Blairites intent on sowing dissention on this Left forum, and supporting the Campbell/Blair/Mandelson tactical line, and by the sheer 24/7 volume of utterly predictable, vacuously repetitive posts, swamping genuine comments from socialists. RH, Jack T, Steve H , et al, are not interested in the least in a Jeremy-led Labour Government coming to power to actually save our NHS, abolish Universal Credit, save our Education system, re-nationalise the key utilities, unchain our trades unions. A similar bunch of Trolls made the old Left Futures discussion site a real pain.

      3. How does one react to be trolled by the ‘great’ jpenney? Should one feel honoured or should one just have a little smile to oneself that childish insults are all that he has left.

      4. I’m really getting to enjoy Ha’penny’s ridiculousness. In the datk of this parliamentary dung-heap called ‘Brexit’, it’s a small light of amusing absurdity emerging from under the rickety-rackety bridge where the real trolls live.

        You’ve even got to have some admiration for the Frankenstein’s monster that’s been concocted out of assorted bits of Netanyahu, Putin and Trump and stitched together with a string of pseudo-working class pretences.

  4. Good to see “The Papers” on BBC News 24 having a balanced panel of journalists commenting on today’s parliamentary business.
    Had Times journalists from BOTH sides of the spectrum tonight, with Sebastian Payne and Lucy Fisher putting the Tory case from a male AND a female perspective.

  5. You’re not a diplomat are you, Skwark? Referring to those of us who support a Referendum a s’enemies of Jeremy Corbyn’ is a sure way of creating a rift between those of us who support Jeremy Corbyn and those of us who support JennJe Corbyn!!!!!!

    1. All dogs are animals, not all animals are dogs. Corbyn’s enemies have demanded things – that’s not the same as ‘all those who want those things are Corbyn’s enemies’.

  6. The full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to all Labour MPs this [Monday] afternoon.

    Dear colleague

    I want to thank you for your support and comradeship in recent weeks, as we seek to deal with the Tory Brexit shambles.

    Through their intransigence and incompetence, the Tories have failed to deliver a Brexit deal. They are risking the livelihoods of so many of our constituents and are fuelling resentment.

    Theresa May has been forced to pre-announce her resignation, in a desperate attempt to seek support for her botched deal. The Chief Whip is attacking the cabinet. The government is falling apart. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate our readiness to take over.

    People need a government which will sort out their schools, their hospitals, their council services and their community safety. Theresa May is preventing that happening.

    We need to sweep this government away and let people take control through a general election, as agreed at our conference.

    I know within the Parliamentary Labour Party, and the wider party, we have a variety of strongly-held views on Brexit.

    And amongst voters in Labour seats, from Hackney to Huddersfield, there are vastly different and passionately held views. Those views are reflected in our election gains, whether that is Brighton and Canterbury, or Crewe and Weaver Vale. And we must also look to opinions in the seats we need to gain to win the next election.

    I fully recognise the strength of feeling shown by recent protests and petitions from both Leave and Remain voters. Labour is committed to bringing these groups together as the basis for a new government.

    We are committed to delivering on our manifesto pledge to respect the referendum result, by seeking support for Labour’s alternative deal for a close relationship with the EU.

    I have discussed this with the EU’s negotiators and with colleagues in the Party of European Socialists, and I am sure it could be successfully negotiated.

    That proposal, as we have said, seeks a permanent customs union, close alignment with the single market, and dynamic alignment on rights and protections.

    That is what we are campaigning for. But in order to break the deadlock and find the consensus necessary to force a change to the red lines of the Prime Minister’s rejected deal, I also ask you to support motions that reflect aspects of Labour’s alternative plan, including a customs union and for Common Market 2.0.

    Further to that, we have also been clear, should we be unable to win support for our deal, and if parliament does not give sufficient support to a similar proposition, we will keep all options on the table, including campaigning for a public vote to prevent a no deal exit or a damaging Tory Brexit.

    Those are the principles on which we approached last week’s indicative votes, and they are the principles on which we will approach future debates and votes.

    I am working to bring together views from across the party and across parliament and I welcome the comradeship you have shown in pulling together.

    Let’s make sure we are successful.


    Jeremy Corbyn MP

  7. The customs union is very close. It would be interesting what the result would have been if Theresa May had not instructed the cabinet not to vote the customs union and given them a free vote. . It definitely would have crossed the line if the former Labour party and former Labour MPs had stuck to the manifesto on which they were elected.

  8. This article details one delegates view of what went on when our party decided on the Brexit composite motion at conference. Sorry its a long read but I feel sure that many readers will find it a valuable insight so please don’t just skip through it, take the time to read it in full. I anticipate that their will be a diverse response to this, but whatever your reaction it is undeniable that it is relevant.

    The room where it happened: how we agreed Labour’s Brexit conference policy

    1 April 2019
    One Sunday evening last September, I went into a meeting room in Liverpool to help composite the highest number of contemporary motions on a single issue in the history of our party. I knew we were in for a long night. In the end, more than 100 delegates spent over six hours in that meeting. What none of us could have anticipated was that we would have to spend the next six months fighting for the Brexit policy to be followed by the party.

    I had confidence in the party’s member-led policy-making and felt honoured to be in that room. A group of comrades from across our broad church, brought together via the democratic process of our party, to decide our policy on an issue that will affect the country for generations – what could be more socialist and democratic?

    We debated and deliberated in a comradely way. The delegates decided early in the evening to work together on just one version of a motion, rather than dividing into two groups. This wasn’t a time for splits. The wording of the motion developed as the evening went on. Late into the night, working with Keir Starmer and his team, we came together and agreed the composite motion on which we had consensus. At one point, we even had a conversation about what exactly ‘consensus’ meant.

    Many of us had to compromise on the final wording of the motion. We ultimately agreed to the “options on the table” pledge, despite the vast majority of motions in the room having been very clear on their commitment to a referendum on the Brexit deal. Keir received a standing ovation when he made the case, in his conference speech, for Remain to be on the ballot paper in any referendum. It certainly reassured me that both the wording and spirit of the motion would be upheld by our party and parliamentarians. At no point did anyone say that the 2017 election manifesto would take precedence over this policy.

    Since then, the struggle to ensure that our policy is followed has been exhausting, upsetting and at times infuriating. The conference policy has been wilfully ignored, misinterpreted and misconstrued by people at every level of the party. Those who wrote the policy know what the wording and the spirit of the motion means, yet our voices have been absent from these conversations. If clarification was needed, why not ask us?

    The part of the policy relating to the single market seems to be the one misinterpreted most often. The motion stipulates that our future relationship with the EU must include “full participation in the single market”. That means being in the single market. This membership is needed to retain EU rights and protections, and involves freedom of movement. Labour’s demand for “close alignment with the single market” is not the same thing and has no mandate from the membership. Why is it included in the alternative Brexit plan?

    The composite motion also states: “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.” This is consistently overlooked. It is important to note that the pledge does not specify a Tory government, and would therefore also apply if Labour were in power – yet Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman has reportedly said that the party only supports a public vote on a Tory Brexit, not a Labour one.

    I readily acknowledge that Brexit is a hugely difficult and divisive issue. But we must also all accept that our conference policy from 2018 supersedes the manifesto from the year before. I didn’t join the Labour Party to help Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg realise their Brexit dreams, and I don’t suppose many of our 500,000-strong membership did either. What is the point of being the biggest political party in Europe if the wishes of the membership are sidelined by MPs?

    In that meeting last September, compromise was essential. Consensus was needed to eventually agree the policy, and collective responsibility was vital. Are we wrong to expect the same from our parliamentarians? I am very grateful to all of our MPs who have supported the policy set out at conference from the start, and to those who are now finally following it. I couldn’t have been happier to see the Prime Minister’s deal voted down for a third time on Friday. I was delighted to see so many Labour MPs voting in favour of a confirmatory referendum in the indicative votes last week. But it was disappointing to see how many of our representatives did not vote in line with the whip that day.

    I am pleading with every one of our Labour MPs: help restore my faith in member-led policy-making, and give confidence to the delegates who will attend this year’s party conference that the policies they adopt will be followed to the letter. Please do what is right for your constituents and our country by supporting any option that allows the people, as per our policy, to have the final say on Brexit.

    Fiona O’Farrell
    Fiona O’Farrell is a Remain Labour activist who helped shape Labour’s Brexit policy at party conference in 2018.

    1. An interesting and thoughtful insight that, in my contacts with other members, pretty well represents the majority view in the Party over a divisive issue.

      As said – crucially :

      ” I didn’t join the Labour Party to help Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg realise their Brexit dreams,”

      All the rest falls in behind that.

    2. Garbage as usual, SteveH. What this “Fiona O’Farrell” person is saying in that over-long copied piece , is that a small but well-organised bunch of Labour Party Left Liberal privileged middle class activists reserves the right to renege on the 2017 Labour Manifesto commitment to respect the democratic majority of the 17.4 million who voted to Leave – despite that commitment being a key source of Labour’s success in the 2017 General Election. Sorry, Fiona, but our 2017 Manifesto didn’t actually say “Labour will go through the motions in appearing to respect the outcome of the 2016 Referendum to get the Leave voters’ support, just until the pro Remain Left liberal middle class privileged activists amongst our 500,000 members can organise, with huge financial support from Blair/Mandelson/Big Business, to get Labour to renege on that Manifesto PROMISE ” !

      1. Unfortunately, for you, it is undeniable that her views broadly represent those of the Labour Party’s members and voters. It is inescapable that it is you that is in the minority.

        I was always under the impression that conference is where policy is discussed and decided and cannot be bound by past manifesto commitments, especially one’s for an election which we lost. Have the rules changed.

      2. “the democratic majority of the 17.4 million who voted to Leave”

        Jeez. He can’t even count! The 17.4 million was a 37% *minority* of the electorate. Nowhere near as conclusive as 1976.

  9. ‘A Cheat’s Charter’ from a bourgeois bunch of spineless, self serving liars without integrity. They voted for Article 50 but now “Oh dear, I mis-spoke”. We left on 29th March because that is what our representatives agreed? No? The great betrayal will not be forgiven; we know that MPs can never be trusted. Your vote is meaningless. We will never be allowed to leave the Hotel California, the masters still make the rules, for the wise & the fools. Enter Stage 2 ‘Extension’. You can never leave.

    1. “They voted for Article 50”

      Revising a stupid opinion or intention is no weakness – especially if the information tells you it was stupid. As Keynes’s said about revising opinion …..

      The opposite conforms to Einstein’s definition of insanity,

  10. If there is one thing that unites the Tories more than any other it is their fear of another G.E. I don’t see how May can get that through the commons. It seems to be just another bluff used to scare the Tory wets into backing her mad deal. And it will probably work.

    Soft Brexiteers should rejoice, May’s deal will result in the softest of Brexits. Those who cannot see that are not paying attention to the nitty-gritty of that deal.

    As a remainer, I despair because that deal will be at the cost of any influence over E.U. decisions of any kind. All we will have done is to make ourselves a vassal-state of the E.U.

    1. “All we will have done is to make ourselves a vassal-state of the E.U.”

      … and the US … and China

      These things are safe bets.

  11. Some of us believe that only out of the EU can Labour re-nationalise and implement other socialist policies, and they therefore desperately want Brexit – a perfectly reasonable point of view, although any benefit to us obviously presupposes a Labour government.
    We could end up with a no-deal-Brexited Tory government making a bonfire of corporate tax, corporate regulation and our rights just to keep the economy from crashing.

    Some of us think the EU might be willing to make concessions on public ownership and other socialist policies where they don’t adversely affect other member states.

    None of us KNOW a damn thing.

    Perhaps the disagreement could be settled if Jeremy were to invite the EU to declare publicly which aspects of Labour’s manifesto contravene EU law and if implemented by Labour would not be tolerated.
    I think we might find they’d tolerate quite a lot to keep us in the EU.
    Plenty of exceptions have been negotiated before.

    In the EU and stuck with a Tory government we’d be no worse off than we are now and at least they’d have to implement the Tax Avoidance Directive to some degree – so the likes of Rees-Mogg would be worse off.

    1. Perhaps the disagreement could be settled if Jeremy were to invite the EU to declare publicly which aspects of Labour’s manifesto contravene EU law and if implemented by Labour would not be tolerated.


      I am concerned that so many Brexit fans just
      choose to ignore what will happen when we next have a Tory government with a descent majority, when they won’t be constrained by EU legislation.The Tories already have intentions to neuter legal challenges to their future legislation.

    2. “None of us KNOW a damn thing.”

      That is true – but life isn’t based on certainties. It’s based on probabilities and the information that supports them.

      … and I know where I will put my bets.

      1. So why make such a fuss when others do exactly the same, and arrive at a different conclusion?

        The EU works for you. So logically, you wish to continue having the EU work for you. For others, it does not. Remember, it was the EU who sent Cameron home with a balloon and party bag.

      2. So why make such a fuss when others do exactly the same, and arrive at a different conclusion?

        A question that it would be even more appropriate ask yourself. I am baffled why you and your cohorts think that throwing around childish insults at anyone who has the temerity to disagree with you in any way adds to the veracity of your case.

      3. The point of my post was clearly that a statement from the EU on its response to Labour’s implementation of its manifesto could settle the question.
        Left wing minds ought logically to converge on a united position according to The EU’s answers.
        If the EU confirm they’re as implacably opposed to the left as Lundiel and others believe then remain makes no sense and I’ll be an ex-remainer.
        I’d anticipate the same from Brexiters if the EU concedes Labour’s right to its manifesto.

        RH, why you choose to focus on an aside intended only to point out that none of us are omniscient escapes me.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: