ANDREW ADONIS: Remain supporters need to back Labour to make a People’s Vote happen
- Credit: PA
Labour peer ANDREW ADONIS says his party is the only option on the ballot paper that can make a second referendum happen.
The Holy Trinity – three in one and one in three – is dense yet utterly vital to Christian wellbeing. Labour's Brexit Trinity, following its Brexit policy statement on Tuesday, has similar properties in our immediate temporal sphere.
The three elements are Labour's 'alternative Brexit plan', a general election, and a second referendum with an option to remain. Behind them is the reality that, despite all the political developments of recent months, including the launch of Change UK, Labour continues to be both the dominant opposition party and the only alternative government to the Conservatives, although a range of Tory leaders and Brexit policies are possible in the months ahead.
Crucially, Labour alone can now stop Nigel Farage from topping the poll in the European elections on May 23. If Farage comes first, he will be rampant and the dynamic of Brexit will be his.
In blunt reality, unless Labour moves decisively to stop it, Brexit happens. As for a second referendum, unless Labour supports one, united under Jeremy Corbyn, it can't and won't happen because there aren't the votes for it in the House of Commons, however many #FPBE tweets and blogs are posted and however many pro-European Labour members resign.
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So we need to grapple with the Brexit trinity.
This is how it was set out on the tablet of stone brought down from Tuesday's seven-hour NEC meeting: 'To support Labour's alternative plan, and if we can't get the necessary changes to the government's deal, or a general election, to back the option of a public vote.'
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The words 'the option of' are redundant, in that 'backing' a public vote turns it from an option to a commitment. So the referendum is stronger than presented. Labour is now committed to a second referendum if it can't secure its alternative deal or a general election.
Might either of these come to pass? Corbyn and his team continue to believe they might, which is why the NEC meeting lasted seven hours and produced this formula.
Corbyn's allies, buoyed by the surge to Labour in the snap general election two years ago, have ever since believed Theresa May to be on the brink of collapse and that a further snap election will complete the job.
They have a point. May's government is the weakest and most divided in living memory. But the resignation of May – which may be imminent – does not mean the collapse of the Conservative government.
Nor, in all likelihood, does it mean an early election. On the contrary, the worse the Tory crisis, the less likely an election. But there is obvious uncertainty here, which sustains Corbyn's belief in an election.
There is equal uncertainty about Labour's 'alternative plan' – what it is, whether there is the remotest chance of it being taken forward, and if so whether it is credibly deliverable.
The only chances of it being taken forward are if there is a deal with the government from inter-party talks or an early general election. In my view the first is unlikely as the second. I would be surprised if the present talks survive the next week or two. But even if they break up, I doubt Corbyn will give up the quest. Should the fourth meaningful vote be defeated, we may go round the talks circuit again.
So, Corbyn will continue talking about them but I don't believe either an early election or a negotiated Labour Brexit are likely to happen. As for Brexit, hard or no-deal Brexit simply aren't viable in policy terms – they are the poll tax on steroids. Soft Brexit isn't now politically viable, because the Tory party is too Faragised for this and will become more so.
We therefore press on to get Labour to back a second referendum. Step by step. My mantra: whether you like it or not, Labour is the only party that can stop Farage and Labour is the only party that can deliver Remain.
'Why my statement on Brexit was misunderstood: My views haven't changed, but I know my credibility is now on the line'.
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