Corbyn’s hugely popular speech to TUC today flagged Labour’s dramatic plans for government. Watson breaks Shadow Cabinet collective responsibility to issue ‘panic’ speech that would delay general election until mid-2020
Labour’s deputy leader has come out of hiding in what Labour sources have described as a ‘panic-reaction’ to Jeremy Corbyn’s powerful and hugely popular speech today to the TUC.
Where Corbyn laid out his and Labour’s radical plans to transform the UK for the many, Watson has rushed out a speech trying to dredge up the tired idea of a referendum before a general election – again making the nonsensical claim that it is the ‘only thing that can certainly‘ ‘break the Brexit deadlock‘.
Watson did not send the press release to the SKWAWKBOX, which obtained a leaked copy.
In the note circulated it to friendly media, the details of the speech were not to be published until after 10.30pm tonight meaning it would have appeared only after the ‘trigger’ meeting Watson faces tonight had closed, giving members no opportunity to vote based on his action.
In this desperate-looking move, Watson has isolated himself even further – MPs told Boris Johnson that they will back a general election when their Act to prevent no-deal is fully in force, not when there has been another referendum about it.
And the statutory requirements for preparing, tabling and passing legislation for a new referendum – and then a general election after it – would mean that a general election could not take place until mid-2020, late April at the absolute earliest even in the unthinkable scenario of no delays in Parliament.
Getting a referendum bill through Parliament would require MPs taking over the House of Commons for three to four weeks – a process that cannot even begin until the proroguing of Parliament is over.
If it passes, then the referendum campaign would be a minimum of 147 days – but that countdown can’t even start until the Electoral Commission decides on the wording of the referendum question and Parliament debates it and potentially tries to amend it before its final approval.
Add to all that the minimum period of 42 days for a general election campaign and all the arguments and manoeuvres that would go on around both votes and the earliest that a general election could realistically take place is summer next year.
A senior Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX:
This is a panicked reaction by Tom to the popularity of Jeremy’s speech today. MPs have voted multiple times on a second referendum and it’s been defeated each time – there’s no majority for it in Parliament, but somehow Tom thinks one can be achieved without an election to change its make-up.
But for Tom to say a referendum would break the deadlock? He’s in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that would resolve the issue and bring any unity – even if remain won, it would be tight and there would be millions of leavers who won in 2016 and haven’t seen it enacted.
Why would they just accept that a remain result counted when a leave vote didn’t? And if remain did win and Labour had facilitated it, it would destroy the party for a generation, maybe longer.
For him to break collective responsibility to come out with this nonsense is unforgivable.
Another source pointed out that Watson’s speech directly contradicts Corbyn’s speech today:
Jeremy said we’ll present a ‘credible leave option’ in any referendum. Suddenly here’s Tom saying there can’t be any credible leave option to present. He clearly wants to just ignore everyone who voted leave – and then deny the public a meaningful choice in a second vote. He’d turn it into a sham.
Typical of Tom to pop up with a wedge issue to create division when the grassroots are getting excited about what Labour will offer in a general election.
He says a single-issue Brexit election is a bad thing, but this is about as sure a way as you could think of to guarantee that it’ll be exactly that when it’s called.
The full, leaked briefing outlining Watson’s speech can be downloaded here, but the key passage is reproduced below:
On Wednesday 11th September 2019 Tom Watson will make a major speech arguing that when Parliament resumes in October it must focus on securing a public vote on Brexit before a general election. He will decry the idea of a single-issue election and say it may not break the Brexit deadlock – the only thing that can certainly do that is a referendum…
But he will say that if a general election comes before a referendum, then “Labour will decide it’s position at the Clause V manifesto meeting, but I will be arguing that our position going into that election should be totally clear – we must unambiguously and unequivocally back remain”.
He will say we should do this “not for electoral or tactical reasons, but because it is the right thing to do for the country at this time of greatest crisis since the second world war.”
He will say that “There is no such thing as a good Brexit deal, which is why I believe we should advocate for remain. That is what the overwhelming majority of Labour party members, MPs and trade unions believe.
He will say that “we only create the space for our important domestic agenda on the NHS, on crime, on environment, by being crystal clear on Brexit. Labour is remain.”
Tom Watson has been contacted for comment.
Watson’s speech will not only be nonsense – Labour is not ‘remain’ and his shtick about a referendum solving anything is delusional – it will be a breach of collective responsibility and clearly a disciplinary matter. Jeremy Corbyn can and should sack him from the Shadow Cabinet for it.
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