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Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

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Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by Ivan on Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:46 pm

First topic message reminder :

Before the EU referendum on 23 June, only 9 of Labour’s 232 MPs backed the Leave campaign. Analysis of the result shows that Labour persuaded two-thirds of its supporters to vote for Remain. The Labour conference in September 2015 recognised “that our membership of the EU means companies can sell to a market of 500 million people, employees are provided additional rights and protections in the workplace and everyone across the UK has the freedom to travel, live, work, study and retire anywhere in the EU”. Everything suggests that Labour is very much a pro-EU party.

It therefore seems strange that in Parliament on 7 December, Labour appears to have handed Theresa May what some newspapers are calling “a blank cheque” for triggering Article 50, as only 23 of its MPs voted against the motion to do so, while another 56 abstained. Virtually every MP who supported the UK remaining in the EU said they did not want to block Article 50 outright, merely that they want Parliament to have its say.

Simple souls will tell you it’s “undemocratic” if you don’t accept “the will of the people” as expressed in that referendum. Of course it wasn’t the verdict of “the people” but of 51.89% of those who voted, just 37.46% of the electorate. It certainly wasn’t the will of the people of Northern Ireland and Scotland, where a majority of those who voted wanted to stay in the EU, and it definitely wasn’t the will of the people of Gibraltar, where 96% voted for Remain. In any case, the so-called ‘democratic’ process was flawed. 3 million EU residents in the UK were denied a vote, as were 1.5 million 16/17 year olds (unlike in the Scottish referendum) and 700,000 UK citizens living in other EU states. There were restrictions on how much the Remain and Leave camps could spend, but no limits were placed on tabloid publicity, paid for by the UK’s 5 anti-EU media billionaires. Furthermore, the fact that there is so much argument over what people actually voted for suggests that the so-called mandate for leaving the EU isn't exactly very clear.

The referendum was only advisory, Parliament is sovereign. Parliament voted to hold the referendum, so it could also vote to ignore its practical effects. The unwritten British constitution, with all of its complexity and common sense, has never been about mob rule, the tyranny of the majority. In any event, a new referendum on the relations between the UK and the EU may well be required under the European Union Act of 2011. This Act created a ‘referendum lock’, which requires a referendum before an amendment of the EU treaties can be ratified. Because the 2011 Act has been written in very broad terms, it almost certainly applies to the treaties that the UK is likely to conclude with the EU in order to withdraw from it.  

The philosopher and author Professor A C Grayling has written: “I have heard from a number of MPs who will oppose Brexit in Parliament. I have heard from a number more who say they would like to oppose it. I wish to demonstrate to these latter that to treat the outcome of the referendum as binding on them is precisely undemocratic, and that the interests of the nation and its future lies in their exercising their responsibility to oppose Brexit if that is what they believe is right for the country.” Grayling has also said: “Resistance to Brexit is resistance to the reinvention of the UK as ‘The Mail’, ‘The Express’, Farage, Murdoch and the far right want it”.

Theresa May can waffle on about “securing the best possible deal for Britain”, but there is no right deal. All of the possible outcomes of Brexit would lead to a loss of jobs, wealth and the UK’s status in the world. There is no moral or legal obligation for MPs to collude with May’s government in bringing about a national catastrophe on the basis that a simple majority of people voted for it in a referendum. Many Labour MPs are no doubt wary of the fact that they represent constituencies where the majority voted for Brexit. So what? Many MPs represent constituencies where a majority of voters didn’t choose them. It misses the point.

Labour performed badly in the by-elections at Richmond Park and Sleaford and North Hykeham. At a time when Brexit is the issue most dividing the country, Labour is not sending out a clear message. Those who support Brexit will vote for either the Tories or UKIP, while those who passionately oppose leaving the EU may well be inclined to rehabilitate the Lib Dems, 5 of whom (along with 51 SNP MPs, Caroline Lucas and Ken Clarke) also voted against giving May a blank cheque to trigger Article 50. Labour should be leading the fight to overturn the referendum result and to stay in the EU. It’s what most of its MPs, a clear majority of its supporters and its party conference want. They have a duty to do what they believe is in the best interests of the country, and they might even gain some respect for showing integrity in the process.

Grayling says “it is not acceptable that any MP can believe that Brexit is a bad thing yet choose to stand impotently aside and do nothing”. It is even less acceptable when a political party is in that position. On what is the most important issues facing the nation for decades, Labour should show some leadership, oppose Brexit unequivocally and damn the consequences!

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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:50 am

By the 5th. of April 2037, British people (or whatever they may be calling themselves 20 years from now) will be fondly recalling the millennium as the good old days.

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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by boatlady on Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:38 pm

I already am
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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by Ivan on Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:29 pm

Labour should be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU, but sadly it seems that on this issue we have to rely on the Liberal Democrats. This is what Catherine Bearder MEP said in the European Parliament today:-


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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:01 pm

That's rich, coming from The Liberals, who so ably assisted a rabid Tory government to give away much of what Britons held precious. No need to repeat the long list of betrayals since 2010, most of which are now very visible on the streets.
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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by Ivan on Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:25 am

I spent five years wanting to throw a brick at my television every time Nick Clegg appeared, starting with that vomit-inducing event in the Downing Street rose garden. It only took four days for the Lib Dems to ditch their ‘red line’ of PR, roll over and hand the Tories the keys to power and to allow them to keep all the top cabinet posts for themselves – PM, chancellor, foreign, home, health, education and defence. Soon the students were sold down the river and, according to legend, when Cameron asked Clegg if he wanted to save the NHS from Lansley or pursue reform of the Lords, Clegg chose the latter, only for it to be blocked by the Tories.

However, perhaps the real tragedy of the so-called coalition is that the Lib Dems did restrain the Tories from their worst excesses, the ones which we’ve had to suffer since May 2015. Maybe that hid from the public gaze just how damaging the Tories are and helped people to sleepwalk into re-electing them.

I think we also have to consider that not all Lib Dems are as duplicitous as Clegg and that there are significant differences within their party, just as there are between Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith – and of course between Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn. Catherine Bearder was the only Lib Dem MEP to get elected in 2014, she hates Brexit and will fight to get it reversed if she possibly can. There’s no way that I would ever vote for her party, especially in view of its recent record in government, but on the issue of Brexit, maybe it’s a case of any port in a storm - or simply my enemy’s enemy is my friend.
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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:41 am

Washington Irving, whilst living in Birmingham (England), wrote a short story about Rip Van Winkle, who slept for twenty years during the American Revolution. Current events make dropping out for our next twenty years sound like a positive move.

Any ideas how you can do it?
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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by Ivan on Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:37 pm

Labour threat to defeat Theresa May over Brexit bill

From an article by Heather Stewart:-

Theresa May is facing the threat of a humiliating parliamentary defeat over Brexit after Labour warned that it would vote against her flagship 'great repeal bill' unless she makes significant concessions. With only a few Conservative rebels needed to inflict defeat on the PM, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told ‘The Guardian’ he was “putting the government on notice” and demanded changes on matters from parliamentary scrutiny to workers’ rights.

The bill, which will repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 and transpose EU law into UK law, will be published on Thursday as the European Union (withdrawal) bill, but MPs will not get the chance to vote on it until it receives its second reading in the autumn. Starmer’s move to exploit May’s weakness – and formally reject her entreaties for Labour to work alongside her – came as the government faced further setbacks over its approach to Brexit.

The Conservative Remain-supporting former minister Nicky Morgan has become chair of the influential Treasury select committee, to position herself as a thorn in the side of the government’s plans for leaving the EU. Meanwhile in Brussels, Michel Barnier, giving an update on the negotiations so far, rebuffed Boris Johnson’s comment that the EU can “go whistle” if it thought Britain would pay a huge bill for leaving. Barnier said: “I am not hearing any whistling, just a clock ticking”, and he stressed the EU’s long-standing position that citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the divorce settlement must be dealt with before talks can begin on a future free trade deal.


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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:01 am

This autumn's political-party conference round promises to be unusually eventful. Must be quite a good chance of a conventional British "fudge" emerging from the process. I wouldn't bet against a reconciliation of some kind with our European neighbours being the outcome.
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Re: Should Labour be leading the campaign to keep the UK in the EU?

Post by snowyflake on Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:22 pm

Can we possibly be any stupider? Surely, with the fall out of the election and the Brexit chaos negotiations are enough for us to realise we made a mistake?
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