Constitutional matters have always been an issue for the Labour Party. During the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the Scottish Labour Party’s self-endorsed tagline of “we are neither unionist nor nationalist” summed up the dilemma the party was facing.
Move forward four years to 2018 and the UK Labour Party find’s its self in the same position. At this year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool, delegates submitted a motion to debate the party’s position on Brexit, which resulted in delegates overwhelmingly voting to keep the option of a peoples vote on the table should there not be a general election.
The prospect of a general election taking place in 2019 seems unlikely with most Conservative MP’s including the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) likely to support Theresa May in the event of a motion of no confidence, and this is something that Jeremy Corbyn is aware of.
The European Union has said that there will be no further concessions or renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement, which presents another obstacle for Theresa May in her quest to get the withdrawal agreement passed through parliament, with sources suggesting that Ms May could reach out to pro leave opposition members in order to get her deal passed.
The Labour party’s message around Brexit is at best confusing and incoherent. John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer said, “a peoples vote is inevitable” and last Thursday Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education said, “a second vote would undermine democracy”.
Andrew Gwynne MP, National campaign Coordinator for the Labour Party has suggested that the Labour Party will put it to members at a special party conference on the party’s next steps on Brexit. What will be on the ballot paper is another question, but the prospect of a special party conference further illustrates the dilemma that constitutional matters present to the Labour Party, and the lack of direction from the front bench, which is understandable given that there is a split between Labour MP’s who represent both leave and remain constituencies.
Whilst the referendum in 2016 was democratic, sometimes even democracy can get it wrong, and what people know about Brexit now is that it will have severe implications for the country.
This debate can not be viewed in the context of a left v right struggle, but rather what is in the best interests of the country, and what is needed is politicians to have the conviction and the courage to do the right thing for the country and push for a second referendum, otherwise if Labour is perceived to be the facilitators of Brexit, it could have far reaching consequences for the future of the Labour Party.