After Government Talks Failed, It's Up To Labour To Deliver What Young People Want – A New Referendum

These talks were always going to fail – would Labour members like me accept our party bailing out a broken Tory government?

It truly is a week of endings. The Premier League, Daenerys Targaryen’s descent into badness and now, the non-starting yet somehow never-ending Brexit negotiations between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May are finally over.

It was finally announced on Friday morning that talks between Labour and the government, aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse, have ended without an agreement, and not particularly agreeably.

Predictably, both parties were quick out of the blocks to blame the other for the breakdown of the talks. Jeremy Corbyn told reporters talks had “gone as far as they can” and blamed the government’s “increasing weakness and instability” for the lack of agreement. The Prime Minister, for her part, argued the “lack of common position” in Labour – in particular around a public vote on any agreed deal – had made the talks “difficult”.

The reality was that it was always going to end this way.

The Labour Party members such as myself were never going to accept our party’s leadership bailing out a broken Tory government, in particular to deliver a stitched up Brexit against our will. Conservatives across the country too, were furious at the mere idea of the Prime Minister sitting in a room with Jeremy Corbyn, let alone working with him to weaken her already soft Brexit.

No one credibly believed that either party leader had the support of their MPs or members to deliver an agreement. But it suited both of them. Theresa May, as a front for an extension to Article 50 (and a few more weeks in the job). For Jeremy Corbyn, who was badly stung by refusing to meet the Prime Minister a few months ago and who wants the focus to be on Tory divisions, not him being at odds with his membership.

So we’ve continued, for the better part of two months, both of them and all of us, knowing that nothing could come of the talks. But also understanding that neither of them wanted to pull the trigger and be blamed for their collapse.

The fundamentals have simply never changed – the undeliverable promises of 2016 have meant that no matter the Brexit Deal agreed, it will fall short of what is expected of it. There are two large minorities in Parliament – one for the Prime Minister’s deal, or another form of soft Brexit, the other, for a confirmatory referendum on that deal. Put them together, and you get a majority.

Lexiters in my party and no-deal Brexiters in the Conservatives know this. Delay and obfuscation works for them, if no one else.

That’s why there’s been reports of a parliamentary stitch up of indicative votes - to try and ensure that a People’s Vote is ‘knocked out’ before it gets going, should concern all Labour members. We need to make sure that our leadership are not privy to a plan to undermine the overwhelming majority of our membership. So, what next?

Well for young people like me, we will continue to make the case with groups like For our Future’s Sake that the only way out of this mess – which helpfully is democratic and breaks this impasse – is through a People’s Vote on any agreed Brexit Deal. It’s our generation who will have to deal with the mess politicians made today, anyway.

The Prime Minister is going to try with one more throw of the dice, to pass her Brexit deal in the form of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in early June. Early estimates are that it will lose by an even bigger margin than last time. Her hope is that the European Election results are so bad her the Conservatives, that it forces her MPs to bend to her will. She must be the first prime minister in history to hope for a pummelling at the ballot box.

It’s not really the actual end of course, merely the end of the beginning.

We have to move on now. Young people demand it, and the country deserves it. The only way to do that is through a People’s Vote, and it’s up to the Labour Party to deliver it.


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