Barry Gardiner Is Wrong – Labour Is A 'Remain Party'

An overwhelming majority of Labour members, supporters and voters back a second vote – who is Gardiner speaking for?
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This morning, on the country’s flagship politics programme, Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, said something that will have angered vast swathes of our membership and supporters.

Gardiner appeared to be continuing his one man mission to confuse as many people as possible, whilst annoying everyone else, by saying that “Labour is not a Remain party.”

Members of the Labour Party - like myself – are tired of our representatives confusing a policy which was unanimously agreed at our democratic annual conference. After a failure to deliver a General Election, Labour’s leadership were to follow our membership in support of a public vote.

While answering questions from the BBC’s Nick Robinson, Mr Gardiner argued not only that “the Labour Party is not a Remain party” but also that we have “accepted the result of the referendum”. This undermines not only Jeremy Corbyn, who this week highlighted the need for a confirmatory vote in Parliament, but the thousands of Labour members who proudly support our policy for a ‘People’s Vote’, and the million people on the streets of London last weekend.

The response to Gardiner was quick and brutal. Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, tweeted that: “Whipping arrangement have not yet been agreed. I support the Kyle/Wilson amendment” – a clear dismissal of Gardiner’s deliberate and unhelpful ambiguity. Gardiner was clearly trying to abdicate responsibility on himself for the votes today, and instead repeatedly argues the tired line of “we’re trying to get a good deal”.

But the reason why the overwhelming majority of Labour members, supporters and voters – including in the Midlands and north of England – back a second referendum, is because we now know there is no such thing as a deal better than the one we have now.

There is no Brexit deal which delivers on the promises of the 2016 referendum campaign. There is no Brexit deal which can absolutely guarantee that working class communities like mine will not be disproportionately hit. There is no Brexit deal where it would not be a democratic outrage if it did not go to a confirmatory vote.

At this juncture, for Gardiner to not show a preference in between revoking Article 50 and crashing out without any deal, is frankly concerning. It contradicts our party members and leadership’s demands to rule out leaving with no deal.

There is simply no reason for his continued obfuscation. We know that the government’s Brexit deal is uniquely unpopular with both the public and parliament. We have seen how Brexit as an elite-driven political project has become about as popular as a cup of sick to most of the country. There is a compromise through this mess – the Kyle-Wilson amendment – which, thankfully, my party has backed.

By undermining our position as a party and throwing up more confusion at this late stage, those arguing the same ambiguous fence-sitting like Gardiner are denying Labour a path to power, and the Labour government we fight for and desperately need. By deliberately undermining the views and wishes of young people like me, who back a second vote and the vision a Corbyn government can give our country, it’s hard to understand who Gardiner is trying to speak for.

If politicians had learned lessons from the past few years, they’d find clarity, not confusion, is what the public want. And clarity shines in the direction of a second vote on the terms of the deal.

Kira Lewis is a Labour activist and campaigner with youth and student-led anti-Brexit group For Our Future’s Sake


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