I have been a Labour Party member in West Yorkshire for 18 months. I campaign to elect Labour councillors and MPs all across the country. Why am I not being represented?
My reasons for being a proud Labour member, and supporting a People’s Vote are one and the same. I’m passionate about social justice, and want to reverse the damaging austerity that has blighted Yorkshire and many other parts of the country.
But after a disastrous evening last week in the House of Commons, many of us in the Labour Party are left wondering what we as a party actually stand for.
Yvette Cooper’s amendment – a simple proposition to extend Article 50 to avoid a devastating No Deal Brexit – fell by 298 to 321. Graham Brady’s amendment, which stipulated support for the prime minister’s bad deal, on the fantasy basis the Irish backstop could be renegotiated, passed by 317 to 301.
In both cases, we were brought closer to a no-deal Brexit because of Labour MPs. 14 voting against Cooper’s amendment, with a number abstaining, and 7 voting with Conservatives for the Brady amendment – defying the Labour Party whip in both instances.
Let’s be clear about what these votes mean, for the working class people across the United Kingdom.
Firstly – and most devastatingly – it puts at risk the peace process in Northern Ireland. The singular goal of the Brady amendment is to try and remove the Irish backstop, and replace it with as yet undefined ‘alternative measures’. No such measures exist – which the Brexiteers know. No amendments can be made to the Withdrawal Agreement – which the prime minister knows. All the while, we’re drastically increasing the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland. The prime minister doesn’t seem to understand that.
Because the European Union are rightly unwilling to throw Northern Ireland under a bus, it also means that Theresa May is going to come to back to parliament with little to show for it, in two weeks time.
That means that secondly, MPs drastically increased the chances of a no-deal Brexit. A type of Brexit that was not on the ballot paper in 2016, simply because it would be catastrophic for the UK. A Brexit that would lead to food shortages, a lack of medicinal supplies, planes grounded and ultimately working class people bearing the brunt of the mistakes of the Brexit elite.
There will be only two options on the table in two weeks time. A no-deal Brexit, or a People’s Vote. There is no other Brexit; one that is progressive, makes us richer or more powerful. Because of this, there is no majority for any kind of Brexit deal in parliament, as it would mean that MPs need to come in contact with reality.
We know that this Conservative party do not seem to care about working class people, or the impact that austerity has had on communities across the UK. 2016 was a cry of desperation from forgotten about communities across the UK, desperate for positive change. It’s clear to anyone with a pair of eyes that Johnson and Rees-Mogg led project, supported by the far right and against the wishes of trade unions will have a horrific impact on the very people they claim to represent. The clowns of Brexit have run away, one by one leaving the cabinet to book their next skiing holiday. Brexit has been abandoned by its instigators, who see to care not a jot about the implications for working class communities.
I would hope that in two weeks time, Labour MPs – who surely did not come into politics to make their constituents poorer – would remember this. Enabling a Tory Brexit isn’t representing your communities, it is damaging them.
The only way out of this mess is a People’s Vote – and the reason why the Brexit elite are so against it, is that they’re terrified of the people’s judgement on their shoddy Brexit. Labour should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the the people, and giving them a final say.
• Isobel Housecroft is a Young Labour member campaigning in Yorkshire and around the country for the Labour Party.