The time is now: Labour must support a People’s Vote and give millions a voice

With 3 out of 4 Labour members wanting a People's Vote, Rosie McKenna argues the left of the party now has a unique chance to define the party's position on Brexit.

As a working class kid who grew up on a council estate, the Labour Party has always felt like a natural home for me politically.

The values of socialism, and a society built for the many, are at the core of my activism.

Which is why the People’s Vote campaign matters so much to me and many others, not only on the left but across the broad church of the Labour Party.

When Britain voted to leave the European Union, it was with genuine concerns at the state of the country, and the prospects the people faced for the future.

But when people, some of them working class, voted to Leave, they did not vote to make themselves and this country poorer. They did not vote for the government to make a shambles of the Brexit negotiations. They did not vote for the UK to become the slowest growing economy in the G7.

And surely, as it always does, the truth is coming out. The people are seeing the reality of what Brexit will bring – and they are changing their minds.

That this Tory government have botched the Brexit negotiations is not up for debate. It is clear that Theresa May’s administration is more busy fighting itself than for the country. And we’ve noticed.

Polling data released last week for the North East shows an 8% shift from leave to Remain.

Whilst a significant swing in and of itself, the North East has been held as a Brexiteer pantheon, and thus alleged proof that working class people wanted to leave the EU. So, while I’d argue  that has never been particularly true, watching Labour, working class and young voters turn so drastically against Brexit will sure come as another nail in the coffin of a favoured Brexit argument. Namely one in which Brexiteers try to pretend they are on anyone’s side except the most wealthy and elite.

It’s been shown that 4 million Labour voters are more likely to vote for Labour if the party backs a People’s Vote.

Let’s put this in perspective. That number could be the difference of more years of Conservative austerity, and a Labour government. The party can not afford to ignore its membership on this issue. Three in four Labour members want a People’s Vote, and they want a meaningful vote on the party policy at conference.

Many CLPs are organising in the run up to party conference, with many having already passed a contemporary motion which supports a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

I joined the Labour Party in 2015 off the back of Jeremy Corbyn’s election. I believed in his vision for the country, and his vision of a democratic party, that raises the voices of its members. I voted for that vision in the 2016 Labour leadership race.

And I believe the right thing to do, to stand by the principles of the new kind of politics Corbyn promised, is to give the power to the people. Give the membership the final say on the party’s stance on Brexit.

We’ve seen this week that GMB are polling their members of whether to support a People’s Vote, with other trade unions (notably Unite) softening or changing their Brexit stance over the last several months.

Momentum have a meeting this Saturday to decide their stance on Brexit policy, after a significant number of their membership called for the pressure group to back a People’s Vote.

I’m proud to see the left of the party wake up to the dangers of a hard Tory Brexit, and all parts of the Labour movement beginning to unite.

The momentum for a People’s Vote is growing, and now is the time for the Labour Party to back a vote on the final Brexit Deal.

Rosie McKenna is a Labour member and a supporter of the For Our Future’s Sake campaign.

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