On 9 July, Jeremy Corbyn sent a letter to Labour members clarifying the party’s Brexit position. But there’s a crucial line in the announcement that both Leavers and Remainers are ignoring.
Hysteria on Brexit
Both sides are focused on the part of Corbyn’s letter that says:
Whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote.
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In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs.
In response, the Labour Leave campaign despaired that Labour is now “a remain party” and that Corbyn has, therefore “lost the next general election”. Meanwhile, Remainers such as those in Change UK attacked the Labour leader with the opposite approach that “if you vote Labour, you’ll get Brexit”.
The key line
But both camps are missing Corbyn’s key point, which is that neither a Leave nor Remain outcome actually solves the UK’s core issues:
Labour has a crucial, historic duty to safeguard jobs, rights and living standards. But no Brexit outcome alone can do that.
Here’s why “no Brexit outcome alone” can fix the UK
We have been inside the EU since the Conservative government took power in 2010. Nonetheless, David Cameron and then Theresa May have, for almost a decade:
- Systematically discriminated against disabled and poor people, resulting in over 30,000 excess deaths per year.
- Barred many refugee children from entering the country.
- Run a financial system that makes Britain the “most corrupt” country in the world, according to an expert on the Italian mafia.
In other words, being an EU member state has had little impact on any of the key issues. Perhaps that’s because Remain campaigners are correct: the EU doesn’t actually have that much control over our policy. True power lies with the UK government, which means that the only way to actually enact change is to elect an administration that rejects the toxic status quo. In his letter to Labour members, Corbyn argued that’s what we need:
We need a general election. After nine years of austerity, too many people in this country cannot find decent secure well-paid work, and have to rely on public services that have been severely cut back.
The announcement follows discussions with trade unions, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and members. Front and centre in the letter, Corbyn also said:
Labour set out a compromise plan to try to bring the country together based around a customs union, a strong single market relationship and protection of environmental regulations and rights at work. We continue to believe this is a sensible alternative that could bring the country together.
The second referendum headbangers within Labour who are prioritising remaining in the EU over a Corbyn-led government reek of privilege. Because calling for a “people’s vote” without a general election means you are fine with the Conservatives managing the result of that referendum. And whether Leave or Remain won, Conservative rule means more death for the lower classes, more despair for refugees and more banking corruption. It means tuition fees, astronomical rent prices and privatised essential services.
Rather than making a Tory-managed second referendum the focus, the Labour leadership should hold its nerve. The sitting minority government, which is only in power after paying off the extremist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has no mandate to simply install another leader on the country. And in May, Sky Data polling found that 54% want a general election when there is a new prime minister, while 36% thought there shouldn’t be one.
In short, a “people’s vote” solves nothing while the Conservative government remains in power. And anyone prioritising a Tory-managed second referendum over a general election is either misguided or suspect. We must join Corbyn and demand an end to nine years of Conservative misrule.
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