Ahead of a crucial vote on the conference floor young Labour activist GEORGIE HARRIS writes why Labour must back the pro-Remain motion this afternoon.
The votes on Brexit today will be a pivotal moment for Labour’s future. Delegates will have to decide between whether Labour will pledge to campaign to Remain or whether they will stay neutral, with a “special conference” to be held after a deal has been negotiated.
As a young delegate and union member, I plead with my fellow delegates to vote for composite 13 – that Labour promises to campaign to remain in the public vote it has promised.
As a delegate from a CLP in Scotland, I hope people will vote to campaign to remain for the sake of unity. Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour have pledged to campaign to remain – so we would be the ones preventing a united front if we stayed neutral in a referendum. Labour cannot be neutral because even leaving the EU with a Labour negotiated deal would be devastating for Scotland – who could then vote to leave the UK. To protect the unity of our party, and our country, Labour must campaign to remain.
Not only this, but the vast majority of Labour members and voters back remain. It would be completely unrepresentative of our base to stay neutral – our members are not neutral. We must also remember that those on the right in British politics, who seek to stoke hatred in our country, will not be neutral in a confirmatory referendum. If we don’t collectively as a party campaign for remain it is them who will benefit.
Right from the beginning, Brexit has been a right-wing project. After three-and-a-half years of negotiations, broken promises, and parliamentary chaos, we should be able to recognise just how disastrous Brexit will be. It should be obvious to us now that there is no such thing as a good Brexit, and that the best deal we could have with the EU is the one we have at the moment.
Even now, just the looming threat of Brexit was enough to contribute to the collapse of Thomas Cook, with thousands of jobs being lost. Labour needs to be on the side of these people, of working class communities who we know will end up hardest hit by any form of Brexit, including one newly negotiated by Labour.
The NEC motion suggests we have a “special conference” after a deal has been negotiated. If there is anything we have learned from the past 3 years, it’s that there is no guarantee a “good” Brexit deal can actually be negotiated.
More importantly – we are having a conference now, with an election on the horizon and the British public looking for us to guidance and certainty on the Brexit chaos. We have the chance today to give them that certainty, and we should take it. We should stand our ground against the political project engineered by Nigel Farage, who is against everything we stand for as Labour members.
Last year, delegates rightly voted to shift Labour’s position towards a People’s Vote on Brexit, because we knew that this chaos was not what anyone voted for in 2016. This year, we must go one step further.
Now more than ever, we are able to better see Brexit for the destructive right wing endeavour it always was. We can’t afford to endorse it, or stay neutral on it, in any form. We would be letting down the people who depend on us to stand up for them.
Young people and working class people especially, who make up so many of our members and voters, desperately need Labour to pledge to campaign to remain in a public vote. I hope my fellow delegates and union members will listen to us.
– Georgie Harris is also a For our Future’s Sake activist.