Voting for Article 50 flies in the face of Labour's values
Tuesday 24 January 2017 will go down as a monumental day: the day parliament was given back its voice. This was not carried out by MPs but by a small, hardy group of campaigners who had to fight tooth and nail through the courts.
They have been fighting government bureaucracy and hypocrisy to give our elected representatives their voices back in the commons over the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.
The Supreme Court rules that parliament, not the Prime Minister, has to have the final vote on Brexit; parliament, not the government, has to be the one to decide if and how we leave the European Union.
Labour Against Brexit is a Labour member led organisation that campaigns against Brexit within the party and in the country. Since the campaign began on social media just over a week ago, we have grown to over 3,000 ‘likes’ on our Facebook page and around 600 members on our Facebook group. We now also have a Twitter handle and a website.
Our campaign argues that it is now incumbent on Labour MPs to stand up and vote down Brexit, in the best interests of the people in the UK that the Labour Party has always sought to represent. To trigger Article 50 is to fly in the face of what Labour stands for.
Theresa May’s ‘hard’ Brexit is going to have a devastating impact upon the poorest and worst off in society, and our MPs know it. Our party campaigned for Remain, and our leadership has until recently stated that retaining Single Market membership would be a red line in negotiations.
During the referendum campaign, voters were repeatedly told that we would not be leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, and therefore they went to the ballot box with inaccurate information. The result was close, and polls suggest that many Leave voters would prefer to retain Single Market membership.
Brexit will damage jobs, security, international development, our financial sectors, our education system, our NHS, the environment, workers’ rights, and our research and development sectors. In short, it is a risk to all the areas that Labour has always campaigned on, and worked both in government and in opposition, to improve.
We were told that many jobs would be safe yet we are seeing big financial sectors already preparing to pull out of the UK. For example, we have had Nissan, who got a sweet deal from the government, nevertheless saying that they are ‘reviewing the situation’.
The situation is a catastrophe, and while it may be unpopular with some voters, Labour MPs have to stand up and say we are putting our country’s interests first and we are resisting triggering Article 50.
Let us, as the Labour Party, remember our core aims, values and reason for being, and ensure that the poor and most vulnerable in society are not worse off because of a ‘hard’ Tory Brexit; ‘hardest’ for Labour people.
We therefore call upon all Labour MPs to say NO to Brexit, joining many of their colleagues who have already stated that they will. And let us be proud of doing so.
Jonathon Proctor is chair of Labour Against BrexitLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.