Brexit: 150 motions submitted for Labour conference with dozens supporting fresh public vote

Of the 272 motions submitted to the party, 55 per cent relate to Labour's position on Brexit

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 18 September 2018 09:39 BST
John McDonell says Labour is not taking the option of a fresh EU referendum off the table

A total of 151 Brexit-related motions have been submitted by local Labour parties, with dozens asking the party’s annual conference to back either a general election or a fresh public vote on the final Brexit deal.

It comes after one of Labour’s most powerful figures, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called for another vote on Brexit, insisting there are now just two possible outcomes for the UK in the negotiations – either a bad deal, or a no-deal.

It is likely to pile pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, who has refused to rule out the idea, but has consistently said that it is not Labour policy to support a fresh referendum.

The document of 272 motions, seen by The Independent, shows that 55 per cent of them relate to Labour’s position on Brexit, with other issues including the party’s stance on antisemitism, welfare, government contracts and schools.

On Monday, the party’s conference arrangement committee will sift through the raw motions and decide which ones to put forward to Labour’s conference in Liverpool next week.

Each Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has the opportunity to propose a “contemporary motion” for discussion at conference and campaigners for a new public vote claim the number of motions supporting the idea will dominate.

One motion from Camberwell and Peckham, the constituency of the party’s former deputy leader, Harriet Harman, notes the “Chequers deal is dead” and calls for a meaningful vote in Parliament, a UK-wide referendum on the final terms of Brexit or a general election.

A substantial amount of the motions, however, are based on the left-wing statement backed by Another Europe is Possible and Labour for a People’s Vote.

As well as calling for a fresh vote, it also says Labour should “form a radical government – taxing the rich to fund better public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment”.

One of the national organisers at Another Europe is Possible, Michael Chessum, said: “If we don’t have a manifesto commitment for a fresh referendum, we will end up going into an autumn election either promising a ‘bespoke Labour Brexit’ which we have no time to negotiate, or offering a Norway-style deal which is straightforwardly worse than EU membership and will leave Corbyn with no seat at the European table.

“Of the options, soft Brexit is the least popular with the electorate,” he added.

Activist Alena Ivanova, who started an anti-Brexit petition of Momentum members that attracted 6,000 signatures, added there has been a “false idea” of division between those advocating a new referendum and those who want a general election.

She said: “That’s completely wrong, because the push for a referendum is clearly being led by left-wing activists, who want to see Corbyn walk into No 10 and have fought for it. We all want a general election, but the issue is what will go in our manifesto about Brexit?”

But on Sunday, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner reiterated his opposition to the idea, suggesting it would hand Theresa May a “lifeline”.

He said the first referendum had caused “real divisions” in the country, adding: “I think the challenge now is to try to heal society.

“The reason we haven’t ruled anything out is because nobody knows what’s going to happen over the next few weeks.”

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