Labour Party Chair Ian Lavery has responded to talk by pro-referendum commentators and MPs of a leadership challenge if Corbyn does not commit to a new public vote on Brexit. The article below appeared on his site and is reproduced here by request:
In 2017 Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to a general election result which left political pundits shocked and the Tories without a majority. In achieving the biggest increase in Labours vote share since 1945 the party won almost 13 Million votes and seats across the UK.
It is estimated that of those who voted Labour between 3 and 5 million had backed Brexit in 2016 and significantly to win the much needed General Election many more would need to flock to Labour’s banner. The analysis that suggests turning our backs on either side of the Brexit divide will reap rewards is either lazy or done in bad faith.
It is equally as dangerous for the country to ignore the referendum as it is to head full tilt towards a hard Tory Brexit. To pretend there are no consequences in failing to deliver on the referendum result is simply living in fantasy land. Labour’s position has been clear since the referendum and involves bringing people back together and to ensure democracy is respected whilst building a relationship with the EU that ensures people in our country are not worse off.
But for too many across our movement Brexit has become yet another stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn. MP’s suggesting his leadership is in peril if he does not back a second referendum is simply nonsense and MP’s suggesting Labour voters should back other parties is simply a disgrace.
As Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly said the real divide in society is between the have’s and have nots and it will be under his leadership that we build the radical redistributive government that will heal these wounds. Exploiting the polarisation that exists in our society on Brexit is cynical and whilst we expect it from some in the party others should know better.
In first past the post democracies the coalitions of government almost always exist within the party structure. It is unsurprising that there are those within Labour who have wide and varied views on Brexit which span the entire spectrum. It is Jeremy Corbyn seeking to bridge that divide to ensure whatever happens next that Labour, a party united in their core values of economic and social justice, is in a place to pick up the pieces and rebuild the broken nation that will await it.
Parliament is deadlocked with no majority existing for any of the options put before it thus far. Simply hoping for a change in the party leadership’s position on Brexit will end the deadlock is not a strategy for the future.
As we lose our collective minds over Brexit, the country that we love is falling deeper into chaos under a Tory government that is disintegrating before our very eyes. As the contenders to replace the hapless Mrs May jostle for position precarious work is on the rise, poverty is increasing and our schools, hospitals and public services continue to deteriorate.
Our ambition, to build a Britain that works for the many, can only be realised if we work reach out across the Brexit divide with a message of hope. Only then can we improve the lives of everyone who desperately need a Labour government.
If MPs are misinformed enough that Brexit is a ‘wedge issue’ between Corbyn and the Labour membership to challenge for the Labour leadership, bring it on.
But Ian Lavery is right – it will be an unconscionable disservice to the millions suffering under the Tories. Those millions are united by their desperate need for a Labour government far more than they are divided by their view of the EU.
Brexit or remain is and must be a secondary issue to that primary need – and the movement will not remember kindly any who help the ‘elite’ to use it as a wedge.
Let’s focus on getting the main job done.
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