Angry Pro-Remain Labour Activists Launch Bid To Force Party Into Anti-Brexit Position

Party conference could be flooded with motions demanding Labour defends free movement.

Pro-Remain Labour activists have launched a drive to push the party’s leadership into an anti-Brexit position.

In the wake of European elections forecast to be a disaster for Jeremy Corbyn, left-wing campaigners have published a motion calling for the party to adopt a radical “remain and reform” agenda at the party’s conference in Brighton in September.

It demands the party defends free movement and takes the position that Brexit is a right-wing project which is “poisoning politics”.

Labour’s current policy is to secure a Brexit deal which includes a customs union and a “strong single market deal” and, if the UK were facing a hard Brexit or a no-deal, then to push for a second vote.

The new motion is being pushed to local Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) from next week.

It comes as the party is thought to have haemorrhaged votes to the pro-Remain Lib Dems and Green Party in Thursday’s poll after Corbyn’s bid to woo people from both sides of the Brexit debate.

The motion, drafted by three groups with a wide reach among CLPs - Open Labour, Another Europe Is Possible and Labour For A Socialist Europe - demands a “final and complete” shift in policy.

Lloyd Russell Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown and member of the Love Socialism Hate Brexit pressure group, is among those calling for CLPs to back the motion to add pressure on the leadership.

He said: “There is no left wing exit from the EU. The reality of Brexit is economic deregulation and scapegoating migrants. It will make us poorer and undermine our rights.

“We have a duty to stand up to that agenda, and be part of a radical transformation of the European project. Only by acting internationally can we challenge big capital and fight climate change.”

It comes amid widespread frustration from Labour’s vastly pro-EU membership that Corbyn has failed to fully back a second referendum on any Brexit deal.

In the coming weeks, Another Europe is Possible plans to mobilise contacts in CLPs via phonebank calls.

Michael Chessum, the national organiser, said the party must switch position or it will fail to win a general election, adding it could be that “the electoral coalition behind Corbyn’s Labour falls apart”.

He said: “The chronology of Labour’s Brexit policy, which we established at last year’s party conference, has run its course. Either we are in favour of stopping Brexit, or we are in favour of delivering it. So this motion is about the politics not the process - about an agenda of internationalism, defending free movement and fighting for radical change rather than pandering to the nationalist right.”

Nadia Whittome, from Labour for a Socialist Europe, said “constructive ambiguity is failing Labour”.

She added: “It’s not just about electoral maths, it’s about democracy and about doing what is right.

“Abandoning free movement means abandoning millions of working class people whose rights we should be fighting for. Labour can play a massive role in transforming Europe and building mass socialist politics internationally - but first its members must assert themselves.”

The ‘Stop Brexit, Transform Britain’ motion in full:
The real division in society is not between those who voted Leave and Remain, but between the many and the few. Brexit is poisoning politics and stopping us from addressing the issues that matter to people.
We need a general election to deliver a radical Labour government.
If the UK leaves the EU, Brexit does not end. Instead, we face years of negotiations and trade deals that deregulate our economy in the interests of the few, making it much harder to deliver our radical manifesto.
Brexit is a Tory project, and Labour opposes it. It would mean a victory for the nationalist right, and is a threat to our rights, jobs, NHS, public services and the fight against climate change.
We will answer insecurity and exploitation with hope and solidarity to bring the country together. We will rebuild communities with investment, expand common ownership, boost wages and union rights, and challenge the narratives of the nationalist right. Free movement is a workers’ right which we will defend.
The Leave vote is more than three years old, and there is no clear democratic mandate for any Brexit settlement. The democratic imperative now is for the people to have the final say. Labour will back Remain in that public vote.
Labour is an internationalist party, with a duty to challenge the far right. We will campaign for a Europe-wide Green New Deal, levelling up of wages, democratising European institutions, ending Fortress Europe, and an international strategy to tax the rich and corporations.

Before You Go