MIL-OSI UK: Keep your eyes on the prize, Labour members, and help sink the Tories

Source: Labour List UK

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We’re heading towards… something. Just one day before the big Brexit vote, and with 74 days until our scheduled departure from the EU, nobody knows whether we will be cancelling Brexit, delaying it, leaving with a deal or leaving without a deal. Whichever our destiny, there are enormous risks, either political or economic.

More reassuringly for LabourList readers, any path taken would seem to split the Conservative Party. Of course, Labour has its own deep and numerous problems with Brexit. The famous conference composite motion is used by every camp to argue their position, and there is little consensus on the meaning of the commitments made in September. Various pro-EU groups from across the factional spectrum have clashed with the leadership’s position on a fresh EU referendum in particular, and other issues such as free movement have angered some grassroots activists.

Labour MPs represent the Brexit rainbow: there’s Kate Hoey, who supports no deal; Leavers willing to vote for Theresa May’s deal; left-wing Eurosceptics reluctant to defy the whip thanks to their support for Jeremy Corbyn; Corbynsceptics and soft-lefties who campaigned to remain but represent Leave seats; People’s Vote campaigners opposing any deal in the hope they can stop Brexit; the list goes on. Back in November, the Guardian designated categories such as ‘the Labour frontbench’ and ‘Veteran Labour Brexiters’, but even those aren’t internally congruous.

Labour and Corbyn are still doing better than the Tories and May on party unity, however. Perhaps this is the fate of both main parties eventually, but it’s important to note that it seems anything Theresa May does now will divide the Conservatives or bring down the government. Several ministers have openly admitted they would resign should no-deal happen; if she drives through a version of her deal, the DUP will end the confidence-and-supply agreement. Despite Labour’s many tensions, ahead of the meaningful vote taking place tomorrow, only three Labour MPs so far look likely to vote in favour of the Tory deal: John Mann, Jim Fitzpatrick and Kevin Barron.

That isn’t to underestimate the Labour drama that will follow the meaningful vote. Those in favour of another referendum fully expect the leader to table a motion of no confidence in the government quickly, then move on to supporting a fresh public vote (although the composite motion only promises to keep that option on the table). Many members have expressed this assumption, including Sadiq Khan on Pienaar’s Politics yesterday, and yet this sequence of events is far from certain. Don’t be surprised when the Labour leadership continues to factor in electoral strategy and the need to gain Conservative-Leave marginals when taking its next steps on Brexit this week. Remember that our enemy is the Tories, not the man trying to win the next election for the Labour Party.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Sunday shows round-up: Corbyn, Mann, Long-Bailey and Khan on Brexit

Source: Labour List UK

The Andrew Marr Show

Jeremy Corbyn refused to say that Labour would table a motion of no confidence in the government on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but said it would be “soon”. The leader denied being against free movement, but did not say it would be kept under a Labour Brexit deal. He also confirmed that Labour winning an election would mean Article 50 extension. Corbyn said he would “rather get a negotiated deal” than hold another EU referendum. Finally, he defended John Bercow.

  • On a vote of no confidence in the government: “We will table a motion of no confidence in the government at a time of our choosing. It’s going to be soon, don’t worry about that… We’ll have the vote and then we’ll see what happens.”
  • On Labour’s Brexit policy in its next manifesto, Corbyn explained how the Clause V meeting (including the national executive, shadow cabinet, etc) that would be held to decide the position showed he is not a “dictator”.
  • On whether Labour is campaigning to leave: “No… We’re campaigning for a country that is brought together by investment.”
  • On free movement: “I’m not against the free movement of people. What I want to end is the undercutting of workers’ rights and conditions.” Later, he said free movement “would be open to negotiation”, but added: “Diane Abbott has made it very clear our migration policy will be based on the needs and rights of people to work in this country.”
  • On EU citizens’ rights: “We would unilaterally legislate to guarantee them all permanent rights of residence in Britain.”
  • On extending Article 50: “Clearly, if Theresa May’s deal is voted down, and clearly, if a general election takes place and a Labour government comes in… there would have to be time for those negotiations.”
  • On another EU referendum: “My own view is that I would rather get a negotiated deal now, if we can, to stop the danger of a no deal exit from the European Union on the 29th March, which would be catastrophic.”
  • On Speaker Bercow: “I think he’s a very good Speaker… The attacks on him are really unfair and unwarranted.”

Ridge on Sunday

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw and 2016 leave campaigner, confirmed he would be voting for May’s deal on Tuesday.

  • On voting for May’s deal: “A day is long time in politics so things can change, but as it stands it is likely I will vote for the deal.”
  • On ‘no deal’ and extending Article 50: “There is no such thing as no deal. The no deal option actually means thousands of deals into the future with the European Union. I think the mess and chaos and uncertainty that will cause negotiating all those thousands of deals is the worst option other than putting it off. The worst of anything would be delaying Article 50 for me.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles and Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, gave similar answers to Jeremy Corbyn on Marr.

  • On Labour’s objections to May’s deal, Long-Bailey highlighted “the customs union backstop” instead of a “permanent customs union deal with a right for Britain to have a say in future trade deals”, the “extremely ambiguous” political declaration and the need for a “strong single market relationship”.
  • On a vote of no confidence: “We’ll wait and see what happens on Tuesday and we’ll act at the appropriate time.”
  • On whether Labour would campaign for Brexit in a general election: “Our current manifesto states that we respect the result of the referendum and we want a deal that puts our economy first. Now ultimately of course, when we go through the next manifesto making process, we’ll have those discussions within the Labour Party but that is our position.”
  • On Barry Gardiner saying that Labour would hold another referendum after winning an election and negotiating a new deal: “That’s not official party policy at this stage.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Sadiq Khan, London mayor, explained his reasons for backing a fresh EU referendum, but acknowledged that there are valid reasons for which Corbyn has been hesitant to give his support.

  • On Labour supporting another referendum: “I’m hoping if the option of a general election is defeated in parliament, I’m hoping there is a public vote… It would be cathartic.”
  • On Corbyn’s reluctance to back a ‘people’s vote’: “There is a good reason for that. Jeremy Corbyn, not unreasonably as leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, wants to be the Prime Minister.”

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MIL-OSI UK: Could a workers’ rights amendment win Labour backing for May’s deal?

Source: Labour List UK

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Today is the tenth birthday of LabourList, which launched on 10th January 2009. First edited by Derek Draper, whose dramatic entry and exit from the project remains unrivalled (so far), the site was then under the helm of Alex Smith, Mark Ferguson and Peter Edwards, all of whom contributed brilliant reporting and helped grow this mailing list, which now has over 37,000 subscribers. I’ve only been in post less than a year, but hope I have provided some clarity and useful analysis in these interesting times. To mark the occasion, I’ve rounded up the most-read comment pieces of the last ten years and made an anniversary survey, where you can quickly offer your views on the last decade of Labour leaders, events and campaigns.

Also in celebration of our birthday I’m sure, Jeremy Corbyn will make a speech on Brexit in Wakefield, Yorkshire, this morning. The Labour leader is expected to argue that a general election is the best way to break the Brexit deadlock, insisting that a government with a fresh mandate would be able to “negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in parliament and in the country”. Corbyn will pair this demand with his take on what really divides the UK: whether you’re living in Tottenham or Mansfield (marginal seat klaxon), he will say, “you’re up against it”. The split is not between Leavers and Remains, according to Corbyn, but “between the many, who do the work, create the wealth and pay taxes, and the few, who set the rules, reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes”.

This speech normalises the idea of a general election and effectively communicates it as Labour’s top priority to the public. It also establishes a narrative that our two irreconcilable electoral camps – pro-EU metropolitan seats and Leave-voting marginals that need to be won back – have more in common than often assumed during this all-consuming Brexit crisis. More generally, it shifts the focus from Brexit, i.e. tricky ground for the party, to Corbyn’s comfort zone, which is talking about the need to oppose “the entrenched power of a privileged elite”. In sum, it works on many levels – but Labour still needs to work out a way to actually force that election.

The government was defeated for a second time in 24 hours yesterday: the (latest) Grieve amendment forces the Prime Minister, after losing her meaningful vote on Tuesday, to return with a ‘Plan B’ within three sitting days. (This involved dramatic scenes in the Commons – if you missed the afternoon’s events, read my explainer.) This is crunch time. Most likely to happen over the next week: the deal is voted down; Theresa May secures some assurances from the EU on the backstop; she returns with a slightly modified plan. Unless the backstop is scrapped, the DUP won’t be having it. But the government could win support from opposition MPs.

Such efforts have already begun: although Gareth Snell wrote a piece for LabourList in November pledging to vote against May’s deal, he has now proposed an amendment with Caroline Flint, Lisa Nandy and John Mann that would guarantee workers’ rights and environmental protections. It is expected that the government will back this helpful move. And the talk is now of May ultimately conceding on customs union membership. Could that see the Labour leadership abstain or support a revised Tory deal? Remember that the only way to get the DUP to vote with Labour in a vote of no confidence is for May’s deal to pass. If a general election is Corbyn’s first preference, letting a Plan B gain Commons approval could be the next step.

Sienna @siennamarla

Update, 11amLabourList has been told by Snell’s office that the MP still intends to vote against May’s deal, and the amendment relates to “the conversation about future domestic legislation” – not getting her deal passed.

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