Brexit: What Labour Conference REALLY voted for…

By Ian Hodson, National President, Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Judging by their recent letter to LabourList, some of the delegates present at the meeting which produced the party’s Conference policy motion on Brexit seem a little confused about what was decided.    At the end of a messy six-hour discussion, in which – ironically – I was prevented from speaking thanks to the anti-democratic manouevres from “People’s Vote” crowd, we finally achieved a consensus.

At no point did we commit Labour to holding any form of People’s Vote, still less did we advocate an option of remaining in the EU.   Neither did we contradict our commitment to respect the outcome of the first referendum.

What we did decide was that we would oppose Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, if we judged that it failed to meet Labour’s six tests.   Were May’s deal to fall, the government’s negotiating strategy would be in tatters, and it is far from clear that any Tory successor to May would be able to command a Parliamentary majority in the absence of a General Election.

Therefore our strategy is clear – we oppose May’s deal and demand a General Election, to allow a Corbyn-led government the fix the multiple crises in which the Tories have plunged our country.

I’m talking not only about the Brexit negotiations, but just as importantly in terms of the vicious cruelty of Universal Credit, the crisis in our NHS and social care system, the spiralling numbers of our people left homeless on the streets or using foodbanks, the under-funding of our schools, and all the rest.

In other words, Labour stands for a radical alternative, the option of transformational change.   Sadly, a minority of our MPs and some of our activists want Labour to advocate for restoring the status quo, overturning the will of the first referendum but leaving us with a Tory government remaining in the EU.

Conference agreed that it’s the duty of Labour MPs to vote down May’s dodgy deal and demand the chance to kick them out in order to elect a radical Corbyn government.    Those who would prefer to link arms with Anna Soubry and Vince Cable for a so-called “People’s Vote” ahead of the demand for a General Election, are choosing a different path, one that Conference chose not to take.