Labour can keep us in the EU - if it secures a mandate for halting Brexit.
On the 29th December, armed only with a creaking laptop and a conviction that 2018 will be the defining year for Britain’s relationship with the EU, I set up Remain-Labour.
Because there’s a simple fact: if we reach December 29th 2018 with Theresa May still in No.10 and Labour Party policy unchanged, we’re as good as out.
Britain’s full membership of the EU will be three months from finishing, with little prospect of a route back. My generation will become the Brexit generation.
That outcome is not inevitable. But to avoid it, we need a decisive change in policy from the Labour Party.
A clear majority of Labour voters (especially those who voted for us for the first time in 2017) and party members are pro-Remain.
Many will not forgive a party seen as complicit in Brexit, irrespective of whether it is of the ‘Hard’ or ‘Soft’ variety.
Remain-Labour is campaigning for the Labour Party to adopt a policy of supporting full British membership of the European Union, before Article 50 expires.
That policy would then be put to the British people, through either:
- A manifesto commitment in any General Election that takes place before the expiry of Article 50
- A referendum on the terms of an ‘exit deal’ – with the referendum question including the option to remain full members of the European Union
The emphasis on either a referendum or a General Election is important. There is no question the Labour Party would need a democratic mandate to overturn Brexit and revoke Article 50. But that could come from either a manifesto commitment, or a referendum: both are valid.
There isn’t space to speculate on how a second referendum or election might come to pass this year, but both are very possible – just ask the bookies. What is crucial is that Labour does not wait for either to become likely before reassessing our position.
We will not win the argument for stopping Brexit by half measures; by promoting the relative benefits of Soft Brexit or simply ‘giving people a final say’. We need the courage to argue that anything other than preventing Brexit outright will be very damaging to our country, especially for those who have borne the brunt of the last seven years of Conservative government.
I understand why committed pro-Europeans have been arguing for a Soft Brexit and keeping options open. For most, I believe it is a tactic borne out of desire to limit the damage Brexit will do to their constituents.
But the Labour Party is still best when it is at its bravest. Let’s have the courage to win the argument for stopping Brexit, first in the Labour Party and then in the country.
If you are up for the fight, please join us at Remain-Labour. We need the support of as many Labour members as possible for our next phase and the clock is ticking.
Andrew Lewin is the Founder of Remain-Labour
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