In my report back from Labour Party Conference, I predicted that the fault lines caused by the Brexit Referendum would become a potential fatal debate for the Labour Party. Today the Independent reported on a speech by John McDonnell, in which he argued that Labour would not oppose an Article 50 bill and would use moral pressure to ensure that the Brexit terms negotiated were acceptable to Labour. Jolyen Maugham argues in the New Statesman that promising not to oppose Article 50, or not to amend it disarms the PLP, it will have no leverage on the Tories who are still putting the interests of their party before that of the country.
McDonnell should note that Labour’s Conference Policy is to determine a bottom line, based on employee and migrant EU citizen’s rights and if the proposed terms of exit do not meet them, to demand a second mandate, which may be a 2nd referendum, or it may be a Parliamentary vote, before or after a general election. McDonnell & Watson are pursuing a very dangerous path, the majority of Labour’s voters and probably members support remaining in the EU, definitely support staying in the single market and probably support a free movement of peoples.
It is not possible to remain in the single market without free movement of Labour, and why would we give up our rights to make the rules if we agree to keep them. It is necessary and democratic to determine if the exit terms negotiated meet the mandate issued by the referendum. It’s also Labour’s Policy. Unity works in both directions.