The party grassroots and Labour voters are anti-Brexit. It's this which must guide the leadership.
2018 is a vital year in the Brexit battle, and there are great opportunities for Labour to pick apart May’s Brexit. But the party needs to turn its Brexit fudge into clarity. The voters need it, members need it and the country needs it too.
In the coming year, the government will have to negotiate transition before it knows its Brexit destination — and it will have to find a solution to the frankly impossible conundrum of separating Northern Ireland from Ireland without harming peace and economic stability.
May will no longer be able to pretend that she can have a pick’n’mix Brexit, and will have to take on one side of her Cabinet by opting for hard or soft Brexit.
The Prime Minister will rack up quite a few miles offering perks and deals to different EU partners, but it will be those battles closer to home that could really unravel the government, and Labour should be maximising them.
Labour can win the Brexit debate – but the party too has its own choices to make. While the government struggles to decide between two extreme forms of Brexit, Labour has a golden opportunity to look at all options, especially given shifting public opinion for the UK.
At Best for Britain we are fighting for all options to be on the table, including No Brexit, when the meaningful vote comes around.
There are three main reasons why Labour should shift its policy to include a No Brexit option.
1. This is likely to reflect what the Labour Party Membership want.
Many polls and surveys have consistently put staying in the EU well above 70% amongst the Labour Party membership.
This will help the leadership get the clarity they need. The party need to look at creating new forums and networks, harnessing new technology to allow members to get messages through – loudly and clearly.
If the Party leadership believe in bottom up democracy, it has never been more vital to listen than on this issue.
2. Hardening the position will help Labour at the ballot box.
Research done by Best for Britain shows that many voters may have picked Labour as the anti-Brexit vehicle in 2017.
These voters are likely to have lent Labour their vote but not made a long-term commitments to the party (yet).
The real electoral battle ground is for the new floating vote: people that support staying in the EU, many of whom flocked to whichever party was most likely to beat the Conservatives- because of Brexit.
This suggests that by appealing to voters that wanted to stay in the EU, Labour will likely be able to maintain and extend their gains made in 2017.
According to Ipsos Mori, Labour has the votes of 54% of remain voters to hold onto in the next election. Meanwhile the Tories have 26% of remain voters still to lose.
3. To attract new voters as well as keep the ones Labour gained, all options need to be on the table.
I and my colleagues at Best for Britain have been campaigning to win a meaningful vote on Brexit with all options on the table, including staying in the European Union.
This is not the position of an ideological campaign: it’s about what’s best for Britain – providing a safety net the country is crying out for.
With David Davis now in post despite lying to Parliament, Liam Fox in charge of trade talks despite countless examples of incompetence, and with Theresa May barely hanging on to leadership of the Tory party, the country needs a real set of alternatives to those being presented by the government.
It’s time for Labour to develop these alternatives. Labour should focus on a jobs-first new deal with the EU, whether inside or outside.
It should focus on deep discussions as to how its agenda might be implemented within EU rules, and seek support for what would be the micro-targeting of investment in the most deprived areas of the UK.
All of Labour’s stated objectives in the manifesto can be delivered within the context of EU Membership. The economic fallout of leaving the EU would most likely shatter that programme.
Labour is the only party that can offer what the majority of people who think that Brexit is a mistake actually need and want: leadership that reflects this view and a safe, steady path to serious consideration of the no Brexit option.
The local elections in May will be a particular test as to where the votes of those that wanted to stay in the EU will go- Labour should consolidate its position before then.
2018 could be the year where we can show the electoral dividend of this position. And if Labour doesn’t shift, other pro-European forces may pop up and take away the vital proportion of voters that got Labour over the line in many marginal seats.
Eloise Todd is CEO of Best for Britain. She tweets here.
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