The Ten-Minute Speech a Labour Leadership Candidate Must Give

With talk of an imminent Labour leadership contest, here's how an anti-Corbyn candidate could declare their candidacy...

With talk of an imminent Labour leadership contest, here's how an anti-Corbyn candidate could declare their candidacy...

I hereby announce my intention to stand for the Leadership of the Labour Party.

With the new Conservative Prime Minister needing a fresh mandate from the British people, I will stand by three principles in any forthcoming General Election.

Firstly, I pledge to lead a government from the reforming centre-left. As such, the Labour Party under my leadership would not stand candidates against the eight sitting Liberal Democrat MPs, nor Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion. These are not times to be overly parochial. There are decent progressives across the parties. If nothing else the last few months have shown that it is time to put country before any party, and before the ambitions of individual politicians. Let us discuss that programme together.

Secondly, I will introduce a new workers' charter in the coming weeks which would see a future government deliver a genuine living wage to working Britons, an emergency budget which ensures that the financial benefits of immigration will be distributed to those areas most affected by it, and a programme of infrastructure investment that will help Britain manage the undeniable change it has and is going through. No longer will Labour be short-sighted when it comes to the consequences of EU membership faced by communities up and down Britain.

This charter will also come with elements of responsibility - a jobs guarantee with a punitive element for those able but unwilling to work, increased investment in HMRC to pursue the tax avoiding activities of global corporations, and immediate legislation to introduce compulsory voting at all elections for those aged sixteen and over to ensure 'no taxation without representation.' Working people need fundamental change, and to be rewarded for their efforts. My administration will deliver this, and in a matter of months.

Thirdly, as Prime Minister, I would instantly invoke Article 50 and begin the process of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union within two years. The people have spoken and it is right that that this process begins. I would cede full executive authority on the issue to my Foreign Secretary, who would be a member of the Brexit campaign. It would be up to them to negotiate the best terms of Britain's exit in accordance with the campaign promises they laid out prior to 23rd June. They can own the consequences of their rhetoric.

Clearly the British people then gave an indication that, narrow margin or not, their preference was to leave the EU and reject David Cameron's limited reforms. What they did not indicate, nor have leading Brexiters adequately explained since the referendum, is what comes next.

There is a basic democratic problem here - the people have ceded authority over to a cabal of political adventurers who do not really want to wield it, nor do they possess a mandate to take the nation in any particular direction. Decades of carefully negotiated opt-outs from the excesses of the EU have been thrown away for a total vacuum. Having no plan for what comes next is simply appalling. The Leave campaign talked about 'Brussels elites' and the 'Westminster bubble' to stir up anti-EU sentiment, but there has been a quite shocking dereliction of leadership here.

If I am elected Prime Minister I will give my Brexit backing Foreign Secretary total authority to outline our new diplomatic agenda. But there can be no more throwing up of hands - the Brexiters can set out the new geopolitical aims of Britain however they wish, but they must be held accountable. It is time for Boris and co to own their decisions rather than fiddling whilst our markets, business confidence, and wider economy burns.

Politicians who have spent their entire lives talking about financial stability have thrown it up in the air on a whim. People did not vote for remain, but they did not vote for recession either. Jobs are about to be lost - not to Poles or Lithuanians, but due to the poor planning of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. We are seeing a collapsing pound, Scotland on the verge of leaving the UK, and the likely retention of many of the things, including the free movement of peoples, Leave professed to loathe. As Lord Heseltine put it, we have been sold a deceitful pup.

And so I will be setting out an alternative road, and argue for a better deal within the EU than David Cameron brought home earlier in the year. I believe Remain tried to sell us a half-hearted lemon, a 'seven or seven and a half out of ten EU,' and Leave a pack of out and out lies - £350m a week for the NHS not least.

It is a long established principle that the actions of one parliament should not bind a future administration. General Elections serve as a regular instance whereby the British people can reverse a decision they later regret. If I win the next General Election I will have a mandate to seek a new referendum on EU membership, no ifs, no buts.

I would then put newly negotiated terms on EU membership to the British people in a second referendum in the first half of 2017. This referendum will offer a straight choice with clearly defined consequences: the future the Brexit campaign lays out versus the changed EU I will deliver. Leave should welcome this - if they want a mandate to truly shape what comes next, let's have that debate.

At present, the default position is undeniably that we leave the European Union. I don't think the likely outcome of a General Election - 35%, 40% or even hopefully more of the vote for Labour could overturn that on its own. Indeed, I go further: if the referendum vote for my deal does not exceed the 51.9% the Brexiters achieved in June then I will concede defeat, even should I gain a narrower majority for my reforms.

However, should I lead Labour to victory in the next General Election, deliver proper change within the EU by working with our European partners, and then win a subsequent referendum to remain in a better union, I believe this will be in the interests of the British people and constitute a bigger mandate than the sorry mess the Leave campaign have left us with. People may talk about UKIP and what this means for the party game, I am more interested in what is best for the country. If Labour does not show leadership on what it believes in, what is the point of Labour?

If you don't want that scenario, then don't vote for me. If we fail to get a 52% vote for my changes at any second referendum I will resign, and Article 50 will continue to play out. Should my side lose, Labour MPs will abstain in any votes to implement the new bills that would replace EU law. Leave can start preparing those bills whenever they wish - the public deserve to know what is around the corner.

The stakes are high, we live in climactic times. I want to make sure that we make a decision that is in the long term national interest. If people vote for another course, so be it. But I am giving the British people one last chance to think again with full knowledge of what comes next. They deserve that chance. The choice is theirs.


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