Labour deputy leader isolated as Shadow Cabinet unites
The Labour Party announced a modified Brexit stance in an email to members this morning, following a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet. Deputy leader Tom Watson subsequently briefed media that the meeting had been a win for him, claiming that Unite head Len McCluskey’s position had been ‘kicked down the road’.
But a document circulated before the meeting by TULO (the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation) – and Watson’s own comments yesterday on Twitter make it clear that the opposite was the case.
Unions circulated the position they had reached to their officials – and it closely mirrors the revised stance agreed by this morning’s meeting of the Shadow Cabinet:
TULO Brexit position, July 8th 2019 – Final text
The Labour Party should confirm that whatever deal is negotiated by the new Tory Prime Minister or an exit based on no deal should be put to the people in a public confirmatory vote. The options must be:
– Accepting the deal or a Tory no deal in the knowledge of its terms
– Remaining in the European Union.
In this event, the Labour Party should campaign to remain in the European Union.
In the event that a general election is called, Labour’s manifesto position should be:
Negotiating with the European Union to respect the Brexit vote from 2016, reflecting the negotiating priorities that Labour has outlined.
Any final Labour deal should then be put back to the people. The options on the ballot paper should be:
Accepting the Labour negotiated deal
Remaining in the European Union
The Labour Party’s campaign position on such a ballot should depend on the deal negotiated.
Labour’s revised position follows this outline, making clear that Labour will campaign for remain in a no-deal or bad Tory deal scenario – but sensibly not committing to a remain on a Labour deal, making a general election still the key route for leave voters.
By contrast, Watson clearly went into the meeting expecting to push Labour into a ‘remain no matter what’ position. Watson tweeted last night that “Labour should not support” “any kind of Brexit”:
The outcome of the meeting was a policy – agreed by the rest of the Shadow Cabinet – that Labour will campaign for remain if a referendum involves a no-deal or bad Tory Brexit, but not that Labour will campaign for remain on its own or a better deal. It also makes clear that Labour still intends to negotiate a Brexit deal if it wins the expected general election – the very opposite of Watson’s self-declared position.
Media pundits’ own preferences have been clear in much of the reporting on the matter, with many claiming last night that Watson’s position was the one Labour was going to back. But – as so often – reality turned out to be different.
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