Labour’s move towards a second referendum stalls

Yes, Brexit. Unfortunately even at Christmas, we can’t avoid it. And this week it’s the turn of the Labour Party. Despite the travails of the Government, it hasn’t been the easiest week for the official opposition.

First, there was the confusion of a no confidence vote. No, not in the Government, but in the PM. Ultimately, not even debated. Then, #stupidwoman gate. Did he say it, did he not say it? Regardless in a week where the Government may have appeared vulnerable, the Labour Party have not been able to take advantage.

However, something else has been happening behind the scenes. In recent months Labour’s move towards a second referendum appeared inevitable. Yet, this has stalled. The official line and position remains the same, but the mood music has changed.

Initially, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said campaigners for a second referendum should be “careful for what they wish for.” Then both privately and publicly, influential trade union backer Len McCluskey warned another vote could be seen as a betrayal. Following this Angela Rayner suggested a second Brexit vote would “undermine democracy.” But, most crucially in an interview with The Guardian Jeremy Corbyn stated Brexit would go ahead even if Labour won snap election.

This does not look like a party ready to support a second referendum. Now what does this mean? Obviously it means the likelihood of Brexit happening increases. Stopping Brexit relies on the Labour Party wanting to stop Brexit and new legislation being tabled. Corbyn has never shown any real desire to want to stop Brexit and has now removed any doubt on his position.

Therefore if Brexit is to happen, we are left with the debate about what type of Brexit we will face. Momentum is moving towards Theresa May’s deal. Could at some stage the Labour leadership after opposing, abstain on a vote. Maybe? Labour would then be able to claim that they did not back a Tory Brexit but did not try and stop Brexit either. A way of bridging the gap.

Look, no-one knows what happens next. But it is becoming clearer there is a lack of appetite for a second referendum in the Labour hierarchy. That in itself is news. And that in the end will be vital to whatever happens next.

But, given how fast events are moving, everything could be different in a week. Let’s wait and see!

Merry Christmas!


Article by Mike Hough

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