Biggest union abandons ‘TULO’ position agreed only 11 days ago to swing behind ‘full remain’ motion Labour leadership thinks would lose general election – while on same day Momentum founder attacks NEC statement supporting Corbyn position
11 days ago, giant union Unison and all other Labour-affiliated unions agreed a position on Brexit that backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach of agreeing a ‘sensible Brexit’ deal with the EU and putting that to a public vote – with a decision on how Labour would campaign in that vote to be made only once the details of the deal are known, which would be after the coming general election.
Just 11 days later Unison is about to abandon that agreed position and put its votes at Labour’s annual conference behind a motion to do the exact opposite – committing Labour to campaign for remain in all circumstances and to fight the general election on that basis. For a union to abandon an agreed ‘TULO’ position is extraordinary.
Such a position would be a gross betrayal of the millions of working-class Labour voters, many of whom will be Unison members, who voted to leave the EU in 2016 – and a disaster in Labour’s majority of leave-voting seats.
On the same morning, Momentum founder Jon Lansman has abandoned any sense of NEC (National Executive Committee) collective responsibility by attacking the ruling body’s agreed statement putting a decision on Labour’s Brexit position to a ‘special conference’ after the general election. If the NEC put its statement formally to conference before the vote on the remain motion, that motion would ‘fall’ and would not go to a delegate vote.
Lansman’s attack took the form of two tweets – amplified with relish by TV journalist Robert Peston:
Lansman has, of course, been heavily criticised for Momentum’s lack of effective democracy. Peston was photographed yesterday chatting cosily with serial Corbyn-underminer Tom Watson in Brighton:
And last night, the SKWAWKBOX obtained a WhatsApp chat in which influential remainers are coordinating their attempt to force the party into a full-remain position – and discussed the Unison switch, although without naming the union.
And at the same time admitting that it will be a disaster among leave voters – and a direct move against Corbyn:
A senior Labour insider told the SKWAWKBOX:
What a start to what should have been a good week. If they get away with pushing us into full remain it will be a catastrophe in our heartlands.
[Unison and Lansman] have turned on Jeremy on the same day and the only way to describe it is as a betrayal.
Unison has been contacted for comment. Jon Lansman told the SKWAWKBOX:
Momentum has recommended support for the NEC statement [backing Corbyn’s preferred position] and opposes the [remain] composite. I have only attacked the process.
However, as Peston has observed, Lansman’s comment that delegates ‘should feel free to vote with their conscience’ will be seen as a green light to ignore Momentum’s recommendation – and Corbyn’s personal wishes – in this afternoon’s crucial vote.
On the insider comment that he had ‘turned on’ Corbyn in a ‘betrayal’, Lansman said only:
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