There is “absolutely no way” Momentum members demanding a debate and vote on Brexit can be ignored, a senior source from the organisation has told HuffPost UK.
Thousands from the pro-Jeremy Corbyn group are pushing for the backing of a vote on Theresa May’s final deal, as well as a consultation on the issue and their calls are now irresistible, the source added.
It comes as almost 200 local Labour parties plan a barrage of demands for a motion on a “People’s Vote” to be included on the agenda at Labour Party conference in September.
If passed, the motion would commit the party to voting down the prime minister’s deal in October and calling for a general election, with Labour agreeing in its manifesto to hold a vote on the deal.
Now senior figures in Momentum – among the most influential Labour grassroots groups – are conceding a shift is inevitable.
“There is absolutely no way that Momentum can ignore thousands of members calling for a debate and a vote on our Brexit position,” the high-level source said.
“As trade unions have, we will have to ensure a consultation happens in time to inform our position at conference.”
Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have a small window – between August 6 and September 13 – in which to pass conference motions. Nine have already agreed to table a “People’s Vote” at the four-day event in Liverpool and 130 are set to consider it prior to the deadline.
Conference delegates will first decide whether to debate Brexit as a policy area, and then decide whether to support the motion.
The shift follows several key left-wing figures throwing their weight behind the Labour for a People’s Vote campaign since its creation in June.
It also comes after a ‘Left Against Brexit’ tour, run by Another Europe is Possible, which has been to town halls in Manchester, London, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham. It will continue in late August and September with events in Glasgow, Leeds, York, Sheffield, Cambridge, Northampton, Newcastle, Norwich, Cardiff, Cornwall, Plymouth and Oxford.
The conference motion being debated by CLPs argues that “the Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland and the future of the NHS”.
It continues: “Tory Brexit will mean a future of dodgy trade deals and American-style deregulation, and undermine our rights and freedoms. This binds the hands of future Labour governments, making it much harder for us to deliver on our promises.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Corbyn-supporting TSSA union, said: “Brexit is a Tory con-trick for the benefit of the richest one percent. It will rob workers and drive down wages.
“Labour cannot collaborate with their Brexit agenda as it’s out of Bannon’s fascist notebook.”
Ann Pettifor, an economist who advises Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, added: “I am no fan of the EU elite. I voted out in 1975 and I have fought the advance of neo-liberal orthodoxy for decades.
“But Brexit isn’t just about Britain’s membership of the EU. Its right wing proponents are the British franchise of a global movement, stretching from Trump in America to Orban in Hungary, Salvini in Italy and Marine Le Pen in France.
“Its effects will be to bolster these far right and neo-fascist movements internationally, and domestically to further deregulate the economy and attack working class people.”
Marina Prentoulis, a spokesperson for Another Europe is Possible, said: “Time is up on the Brexit process, and the only version of Brexit we are going to get is a Tory one.
“Democracy means giving the people the right to determine their own future, with a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal with an option to stay in the EU if it is rejected.”