Labour MPs’ letter to Corbyn urging rejection of ‘divisive’ new referendum

25 Labour MPs write to party leader calling for a Labour-led Brexit

Negotiating Brexit – not stopping it. Labour’s position.

Twenty-five Labour MPs, primarily from leave-voting constituencies, have written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to reject calls for a ‘divisive’ referendum in discussions with Theresa May, which have entered a second day.

A number of Labour MPs and others have recently made media comments claiming that a new referendum is Labour policy – which is not the case.

The MPs’ letter tells Corbyn that the talks “represent a real opportunity” of a deal that would meet Labour’s ‘six tests’ to protect workers, the environment, human rights and EU citizens – and lets him know that correspondence from their constituents gives no indication that their desire to leave the EU is lessening, in fact that the contrary is the case.

The letter agrees that Labour’s policy is to support a “sensible deal” that includes a customs union and protects the ‘Good Friday’ peace agreement in Ireland. This is entirely in line with Corbyn’s approach – a note circulated to MPs by the party’s leadership last week reminded them that “Labour’s priority is to deliver our credible Brexit plan which respects our commitment to accept the result of the referendum.”

The MPs’ letter continues:

Our policy, agreed by members, accepts that the public voted to leave the EU and seeks a deal that secure jobs and rights at work. It does not require a confirmatory ballot on any deal that meets those conditions.

Delaying for many months in the hope of a second referendum will simply divide the country further and add uncertainty for business. A second referendum would be exploited by the far right, damage the trust of many core Labour voters and reduce our chances of winning a general election.

We believe if we achieve these Labour gains now, we will be able to claim great credit for achieving a Deal [sic] that brings Remain and Leave voters together.

It concludes by expressing the MPs’ confidence in Labour’s position and Corbyn’s negotiations.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Media commentators, pro-referendum campaigners and some MPs have misrepresented Labour’s policy in a transparent effort to create an impression that Labour is committed to preventing Brexit.

The letter above makes no misrepresentation and makes clear that while blocking May’s terrible deal or a no-deal exit are essential, Labour remains committed to leaving the EU if a good deal – a Labour deal – can be achieved.

It is also clear that a new referendum, far from deciding the issue and improving the UK’s political climate, would worsen division. In other words, divisive, not decisive.

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  1. How do these undemocratic MPs know, without asking, if the public or Labour members accept any deal which emerges? The truth is they don’t want the public to have a say just in case they change their mind. Rebecca Long Bailey is in the same camp and is attempting, with her comments, to by pass the members – disgraceful.

    1. “Labour’s priority is to deliver our credible Brexit plan which respects our commitment to accept the result of the referendum”.
      Respect to Rebecca Long Bailey.

      1. Excellent response. Perhaps someone should tell Ian Murray MP about the conference motion on Brexit. He sounded more SNP than Labour this morning talking on the BBC News.

    2. You, a person seeking to overturn the result of the largest ballot ever held in this country, accuse Labour MPs who are honouring the party’s manifesto commitment to leave the EU, a commitment upon which they were elected, of being undemocratic?

      You are a fool. An idiot.

      1. “You are a fool. An idiot.”

        I think that about sums up the intellectual depth of the argument.

        Rattles out of the pram.

      2. Internal Affairs. Are you typical of Leavers? Little knowledge and even less respect for the electorate!

      3. For the record I’m not a “Leaver” I was asked ot vote in the EU referendum so I did. I know exect the result of the vote to be delivered just as I have for the last 60 years.

      4. @JackT less respect for the electorate? So what exactly is demanding another referendum?

        And who are you to determine someone has “little knowledge” from a few posts on a forum?

    3. And this comrades exemplifies PERFECTLY the very tightrope that Corbyn is walking right now and my comment ( another thread ) pointing out that all of the Labour MPs should keep calm support Corbyn and allow him to do what he is best at and that is negotiating.
      Brexit , the most divisive issue to ever to hit this country and it’s all thanks to the Tories , it is destroying them .
      We must not allow it to utterly destroy us in Labour and right now I feel that if Corbyn is allowed to negotiate without immature/panicking MPs on all sides trying to arm twist and blackmail , then I think there might , just might be a chance for a outcome that prevents our implosion.
      I am not picking a fight with any fellow comrades on either side of Brexit ( there is no point the enemy is the Tories ) , but I am saying we should allow Corbyn the time and space to work.

  2. Strange agreeing with these MPs but also knowing most of them don’t respect the leader and so why should take any notice of what they say. Perhaps they’ll reconcider their past action and in the future trust the leader, who has played Brexit like a fine fiddle and still managed to keep his respectful nature to everyone else as the arrows have been thrown at him.

  3. It matters not to me who the Particular MPs are as long as they accept that voters may have changed their minds in the past three years and should be given a chance to have the final say. No true democrat would be against it.

    1. No true democrat would condone having their vote kicked into the long grass for 3 years while corporates who don’t like the result pour millions into antidemocratic propaganda based on fear, to change the result.

      1. What about the people who have died, they don’t get a chance to defend or confirm their vote. Here’s the true test for a democrate – I’ve give your your second EU referendum if you accept it without the remain option.

      2. What about the people who have died, they don’t get a chance to defend or confirm their vote.

        The dead are dead so they are incapable of caring one way or the other.

      3. The dead are dead. Fine let’s follow that tact – BREXIT MEANS BRXIT 🙂

  4. Only enjoyable feature of this Mayhem is watching No Deal lunatics and Neverender snowflakes disappear up their own backsides

  5. I think Sqwawkbox’s Leaver bias is showing. Imagine if it had been a letter from Second Referendum MPs!

    What you might call MSM- modelled reporting.

  6. Any deal is a poisoned chalice that Labour would have done better to have avoided.Leavers want no connection to the eu,remainers don’t want any connections severed -end result is that instead of half the population hating the deal you have 100% of the population hating the deal.This was the conservatives mess but the last few days of talks have now tarred Labour with the same brush.Personally I believe that another referendum is a viable option given the current division.

  7. I see that the NEC has agreed a timetable for selecting candidates for the EU MEP elections

    Deadline for applications – 10th April,
    Short listing 11th and – 12th April
    Candidate Interviews – 15th and 16th April
    Selection and endorsement – 17th April

    1. Hmmm. Are you a prospective passenger on the gravy train? That would explain your extreme remain commitment. If we do happen to stay expect an influx of MEPs with one aim…to bring.it crashing down.

      1. “Hmmm. Are you a prospective passenger on the gravy train?”
        Alas No.
        However, given the chance I would love the opportunity to shape and influence both our future within and the future direction of the EU.

      2. SteveH you talk as if our govenment was ever interested in that in the past 40 years. Rose tinted glasses and yes perhaps you only miss something when it’s gone or about to be. But fact is the UK have never been interested in the EU project. The people were not interested to vote and the govenments only used it as an excuse of to deflect blame from themselves.

        All the excuses now from people who voted remain? they all stem from losing thing like no passport checking. Very few people even bothered to know what the EU do and that’s why when most the voters voted out they didn’t think they would be missing out on anything. Those people who knew they would miss out voted to remain. So everyone voted from a selfish stance.

        All the concerns about what it’ll do to the country were really only invented by when the elite took up the Libdems 2nd ref and branded it People’s Vote. And let’s not forget the only reason the Libdems campaigned on remain at the last GE is because they thought the was an opertunity to win some voted from the disgruntled losing side. For the first time in their history they had a massive target adudience that couldn’t resist trying to tap.

        So don’t pretend any UK government would want to shape the future EU because they had 40 years and spent it working against the project.

      3. kickoff3pm 04/04/2019 at 9:36 pm

        On the contrary, the UK has had a profound influence on the EU. The facts from multiple sources tell a very different story. Here’s one, Google reveals many, many more sources. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2018/07/09/british-influence-in-brussels-had-been-far-greater-than-recognised/
        “Britain had more influence during its four decades as a member state of the European Community/Union than has normally been recognised. As such the UK was able to do much to shape the policies, institutions and character of the Union. And the loss of this influence once the country ceases to be a member of the EU will be highly significant, both for the British themselves and for the EU that they depart from.”

      4. @Lundiel

        If we aren’t going to get brexit here, the next step is to vote in a toolbox of spanners to gum up the works.

        I most certainly will not be voting in any Labour MEP!

      5. I most certainly will not be voting in any Labour MEP!

        I think most of us had already guessed that.

      6. Never voting labour again 05/04/2019 at 11:22 am · ·

        Good post. Accurate.

        I’m puzzled why anyone would want to announce to the world how gullible they are.

  8. You are dead right Skwarkie that a second referendum would be extremely divisive. It is manna from heaven for the Extreme Right.

    The first referendum has to be implemented first. After that there can be legitimate discussion about when it would be appropriate to revisit the matter again, always bearing in mind the 41 year gap between the two EEC/EU referendums we’ve already had.

    The dangers of a second referendum are well expressed by Prof Peter Ramsay in this piece:


  9. What does the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto actually say on Brexit; page 24…….Labour accepts the Referendum result. It appears some ‘Labour’ MPs don’t. The Lib Dems are the Party of Remain & their natural home.

    1. I’m still looking for acceptance of the actual referendum result, which was a split vote with only a 37% minority supporting Brexit. Nowhere near a contradiction of the 1970s vote.

      That’s the reality.

  10. The referendum should never have proceeded until there was a fully explored credible plan to present to the people as a legitimate choice rather than a vague wish list. I admit there were spending issues, lies and exaggerations on both sides; Remain with the government leaflet, Leave with “Believe.” The ramp up of racist propaganda was vile, but many Remain politicians treated the public with contempt. The whole sorry affair was, and still is, a total mess.

    The Referendum was presented to MPs as purely advisory, hence no objections raised over a simple majority result. However, the public were told that the result would be binding no matter how close that vote came. This promise became an expectation with the Tories quick to seize a golden opportunity to exploit the situation. Tory millionaires have never given a toss about the “Will of the People” before and their motivation is certainly not at all honorable now.

    After May is swept aside by the next toxic Tory leader any assurances she has made to Labour MPs will evaporate. A confirmatory vote that the EU allows time to accommodate, at a point where we know the full extent of how seriously the hard right are going to screw everyone in the county that trusted them to negotiate, is a necessary safety measure. Once the withdrawal agreement is signed the whole future arrangement will warp in favour of facilitating the ultra wealthy to exploit the slave labour, working poor.

    I want to see the best deal possible negotiated in accordance with both Labour expectations and fully including regional input. I would also like to see a cross-party group working on demands that might be presented to the EU to incentivize a Remain vote. However any requests should be mutually beneficial for all EU members, not just more of the UK’s selfish unilateral demands. It is only at the point where we have two credible choices that there should be another vote. There must be far stricter controls over spending by both sides, as well as penalties for making false claims and not adhering to campaign promises.

    Without the necessity to accuse anyone of ignorance when they voted last time there are very few people in the UK who had any real idea how incredibly complex leaving the EU would be. We are all a lot better informed now. The main motivation for me to believe that there must be a confirmatory vote is because of the groups who were excluded from voting last time. The first concerns “Taxation without Representation;” this was what prompted the Boston Tea Party so many years ago. It is about fairness.

    Imagine if you had come here from the EU, married a UK citizen and you were raising children in England; how would you feel about being excluded from that all important vote? If you had worked really hard and payed taxes for years, before suddenly, without much warning, you were facing life changing restrictions you had no say over: you would have every right to think this was grossly unfair.

    Imagine if you had retired to live in Spain. The Tories had promised that their government would secure your right to vote in UK elections so that this right would not be curtailed after a certain period abroad: they just lied! Despite their promise you too were denied the right to vote on the most crucial issue regarding your future in the place you had made your home: you would feel betrayed. This referendum has a very significant direct impact on thousands of UK citizens who are still living on the continent who, without much warning, were suddenly stripped of their rights. Not very fair on them either.

    Imagine you were not quite old enough to vote in the 2016 EU Referendum, but your 88 year old granny was eager to embrace the prospect of a return to what she thought were the good old days before the UK joined that Common Market thing. She might not live long enough to see the mess this country is prepared to plunge itself into to placate the Tories. What if she has already died, leaving your generation forced to endure all the restrictions her vote will inflict on young people and the less well off for decades to come.

    16 and 17 year olds were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum because it was so relevant to their future. The Tories do not care that they have destroyed the life chances of our young people, the Tory elite just want ready access to dirt cheap labour with zero workers rights. Education and training of the masses is a very low priority for the Tories. At 16 you cannot vote them out, but they control the pittance you can be paid while you are exploited and denied access to the social safety net. The most tenacious young strivers are plunged into lifelong debt with diminishing prospects that will be reduced even further after Brexit.

    The high incidence of knife crime is indicative of a generation that has simply given up hope; our young people are sick of being exploited. The very least we must do now is allow them to vote at 16 and encourage as many of them as possible to vote in this confirmatory EU Referendum that will have such a massive impact on their future.

    While enfranchising the above groups might tip the referendum vote in favour of Remain, that is not the point. This is about fairness to all of those who will be impacted the most and for the longest time. If this expanded electorate still votes to leave the EU I want to know that there is a solid, workable plan ready for implementation in short order. If this is well organized it should not lock us into the EU for any longer than the current transition period.

    I do not think any of these considerations will be possible unless we have a General Election to oust this toxic Tory government. It is only the Corbyn hating media that are keeping the Tories propped in power as they have long since obliterated their ability to actually govern. Any other government would have had the common decency to step down by now. However, even if Labour are in full control of the Brexit negotiations start to finish, I still think there should be a confirmatory vote. Those who are so adamantly apposed to this Final Say Vote should try considering those who were denied the vote last time. It is only fair that we correct this injustice.

    1. All referendums in the UK are advisory and then are made law by a bill in parliment. This was not a decision made by Cameron as often suggested.
      It’s a basic need as the UK public don’t have the power to make laws – we don’t have a constitution, law making is passed on to our representitives on the parliment.
      The fact so many polititions repeat this nonsense only shows how currupt these people are, they know very well why the EU ref was advosory.
      The result of the EU referendum was put into law and now is law as every other law is done and that is the way it has to be done. Cameron could not either ignore the result by law.

      1. He could – if with political difficulty. There is no provision for referendums in this country. Thus the problem. They can’t be binding.

        … but that’s all really beside the point.

      2. RH 04/04/2019 at 8:15 pm

        There is no provision for referendums in this country.

        The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 – It may not be ideal but the legislation does exist.

      3. kickoff3pm 04/04/2019 at 7:27 pm

        All referendums in the UK are advisory and then are made law by a bill in parliament.

        A referendum can be used to enact legislation. (eg The Kyle amendment). The difference is whether the referendum is pre or post legislation.

      4. That’s what I meant – but didn’t pin down well. There is no constitutional framework regarding the role of referendums in the process of governance beyond specifying their advisory nature.

      5. However (as I understand it) it is possible to pass legislation that requires a referendum to enact it (ie: The bill would pass at the point that the result was known without any further input from parliament being required or possible). There are also a number of odd-ball local authority referendums that the law requires councils to implement.

    2. A pretty fair summary. The last ‘referendum’ was a concatenation of flaws. It has led to a situation that is irresolvable. The only way out is a properly constructed re-run with a more relevant population. Only the venal and dim hold on to the last abortive abuse.

      1. ‘Venal & dim’. Now that’s a real comrade speaking. The Police have warned MPs about inflammatory language, I just call it courtesy.

      2. Just telling it as it is, Steve. The flaws of the last referendum are so obvious, and the resultant mire so thick that it is hard to find any rational argument for supporting its sanctity.

        Thus the brief conclusion – the ‘venal’ being the hedge fund brigade of the ERG and their associates. ‘Dim’ is a bit crude (or a bit kind) – I mean those who hold illogical views – can’t see the glaringly obvious, or hold an advisory historical referendum as holy writ, or claim ‘democracy’ whist refuting a basic instrument of it.

    3. …arrangement will warp in favour of facilitating the ultra wealthy to exploit the slave labour, working poor…

      Already happening. At least (possibly for the first time ever), the working poor get to chose their demise.

      If I’m going out, then I’m going out my way, through my choice.

    4. 15/13/10-year-olds will be even more affected by Brexit than 16/17-year-olds so the ‘principle’ is clearly false.
      It’s often said that today’s children mature faster than previous generations and I’m sure many do.
      When 18 replaced 21 as the age of majority in 1970 I was in favour because at 18 most have left childhood attitudes behind, and because I was 19.
      At 16 though, even today some kids would still vote for “The Longer School Holidays Party.”
      Changing the age of majority could lead to 16-year-olds in care being dumped on the street.

      1. David McNiven 05/04/2019 at 1:43 pm

        Or it could force political parties to address the needs and concerns of the young, surely that would be a good thing.

      2. Well – it didn’t bring the roof down in Scotland when the age was lowered for that referendum. I think that you underestimate the capabilities of 16+-year olds. Having taught that age group – admittedly a few moons ago – and having had my own children and their friends passing through that age, I’d have no problem with them participating.

        Admittedly, when I come across some of my musings from that age, I sometimes wilt – but, lets face it, an equal proportion of age-qualified electors are just as likely to make dumb choices – as Brexit proves.I reckon the addled 65+ cohort are no less incompetent than the less addled 16+ cohort.

        I’d risk it for a biscuit, given the steep age gradient and the lack of evidence that age confers wisdom.

        Beyond the age issue, there’s other exclusions that occurred under the last referendum.

      3. SteveH & RH, I simply questioned the arbitrary cut-off point of a change being argued as a question of principle – of course it’s obvious that 10’s shouldn’t vote but if the principle doesn’t hold good then the evidence ought to be better than a few articulate 16-year-olds on TV.
        When lawyers say “Hard cases make bad law” they mean “exceptional cases.”
        The worst decisions of most peoples’ lives are made in their youth – smoking, drinking, unprotected sex, teen pregnancy, joining the army and other poor career choices, thirty-year-old grannies & so on.
        Parents don’t generally push 16’s out of the house – they’re not yet self-sufficient and those that try to be can quickly become street-homeless. Parental responsibility extends to 18 and so does the responsibility of the care system. I wouldn’t want to see either challenged.
        Of course lots of 16’s are responsible but many aren’t – emancipating them is way down on my list of things to do.

  11. Just looking at that letter again. What an odd assortment of PLP pick’n’mix. Also – they’re not much up to speed on what comprises ‘core Labour voters’ – who are overwhelmingly for Remain.

    1. You’re (likely willfully) confusing members with voters there.

      Proof will be on GE day, but like brexit itself, I’ll be betting money that Labour lose. Just a question of by how much.

      1. No I’m not confusing anything. The research is from the British Election Study of referendum voting patterns. Labour VOTERS were, as I say in favour of ‘Remain’ in all categories. I quote :

        “Despite the narrative of the vast divide between voters in the north and south, the graph is astonishingly uniform. Even in the most pro-leave areas, it was the huge support of the remain voters that helped Labour the most across the country. The leave vote is always far behind the remain vote in all areas of the country getting to a maximum of a little over 30% in the most pro-Leave areas.”

        “We know that ABC1 traditionally supported remain and C2DE were more likely to support leave. However, even among the C2DE group, the majority of Labour voters support remain. Among the C2D group, the leavevote is less than 40% of Labour voters. The E social grade is the only group where the leave vote is close for Labour voters (although still slightly lower than remain).”

        “While over 60% of the Labour vote supports remain in remain seats, even in the most leave voting areas, over 50% of Labour voters had voted remain and significantly less than 40% voted leave.”

        … are the key relevant findings.

        When the preferences of MEMBERS is considered, the preferences are stronger.

      2. On the General Election question, I would hesitate to make any predictions, given the volatile situation and the febrile nature of both parliament and electorate.

        What we do know is that support for both Tories and Labour has declined in parallel, and margins are small.

        The Newport bye-election certainly offers no clarity – except that overall engagement is running low.

      3. Got a link for that British Election Study of referendum voting patterns?

      4. Yes. I’ll post it when I’m on the computer that has it to hand. Or try a search for ‘BES’ .

      5. I posted forgetfully two links at once, so they are not here.

        This is the main link to the BES. The site has a lot of data, and isn’t easy to navigate because of its scope (I’ve only just come across an analysis of psychological characteristics of Leavers/Remainers that I’d not seen before). But a lot of data and interpretation is here :


      6. Not wasting my time going through that guff filled website. Link to your claim to verify, please.

        Otherwise, it’s simply cobblers…

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