It’s time for another leadership race

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It’s time for another leadership race

Labour needs a new leader of a pro-Brexit Labour Party, argues Get Britain Out’s Joel Casement. 

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has sat on the Brexit fence for the last three years. The Party’s policy – secured only by the 11,500 Labour Party Members who attended last year’s Labour Party Conference – is to try and keep a Second Referendum on the table in all circumstances. This is clearly to the dismay of the 3.9 million Labour Brexit voters. Shadow Chancellor and Remainer, John McDonnell, described the situation as a “slow-moving car crash”. The only looming crash will be the anger of Labour’s vote share if they don’t adopt a pro-Brexit stance soon. 

Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the Unite Trade Union, believes Labour must respect the result of the EU Referendum. McCluskey and Unite have been Jeremy Corbyn’s strongest backers – and Labour’s biggest funder for many years – and have been pro-Brexit since the 2016 Referendum. McCluskey has made clear: “Jeremy Corbyn has done OK so far”, but he must consult his supporters, namely Brexit-backing Trade Unions. If Corbyn fails to appease his Union masters and backs Remain, he will certainly be removed.

Labour are a divided Party under Corbyn – especially on Brexit. The factions are held together over an anti-Tory sentiment, rather than by their own policies. Corbyn has torn loyalties between Remain-backing Momentum who got him into power, and the Labour Unions who are Brexit-backing. A new Labour Leader would have to unite the Party on the national issue of Brexit, which would only be possible with a Pro-Brexit Leader and Frontbench, which is currently not the case. Candidates presently vying to replace Corbyn are Remainers, which needs to change if Labour are to remain a relevant political Party.

Clearly the Party’s membership and their voters are disconnected. 3,900,000 (3.9 million) Labour voters opted to Leave the EU, yet the Party’s Brexit stance was established at their Party Conference after the Referendum, where only the 11,500 Party Members then present decided the Party’s policy over Brexit. Labour had a membership of 540,000 (at that time) and a total Labour electoral vote of 12,877,000 at the last General Election. So, it is clearly ludicrous for only 0.09 % of the Labour Party to decide Labour’s Brexit policy after such clear support for Britain Leaving the EU in the Referendum! The Party must clearly change, and be more representative of Labour voter’s views on Brexit! 

The Second Referendum faction within Labour are motivated to try to force a new General Election. However, with the growing prospect of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the overtures from this group within Labour are increasing towards a Second Referendum happening first. They feel they must win both a General Election and a Second Referendum, and they constantly change their preference for which happens first depending on the political landscape. During Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Corbyn stated “The vote should go back to the people.”, but he cunningly did not specify if he meant a General Election or a Second Referendum! He is clearly hedging his bets and still sitting on the fence, instead of understanding the wishes of his 3.9 million Brexit-supporting Labour voters. 

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Sir Keir Starmer, and the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, have all been fervent advocates of Labour becoming a Remain Party and backing a Second Referendum. McDonnell is also rumoured to be about to ask Civil Servants to work on proposals for another Referendum! This would certainly cause a split in the Party, causing many to defect, doing irreparable damage to Labour. This is the length to which these Remainers are willing to go to overturn the democratic mandate of the British people to Leave the EU.

With Boris Johnson – a Brexiteer Centralist Conservative – most likely to become Prime Minister on July 24th, as well as the rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and increased support for the Liberal Democrats, Labour could be decimated at the next General Election. Labour’s Caroline Flint MP has already said the Party could lose more than 40 seats to the Brexit Party in Labour heartlands if they back a Second Referendum.

Labour attempted to seize control of the Parliamentary timetable again recently – on June 25th – to try and stop No Deal. The Conservative Europhile, Dominic Grieve and Labour’s Margaret Beckett tried to raise an amendment to the Finance Bill on Tuesday against No Deal, but this was unusually ignored by the Speaker, John Bercow. It seems the attempt to try and stop a No Deal on WTO terms Brexit may be running out of steam. The British public voted to Leave the EU, but taking a No Deal Brexit off the negotiating table would hand further leverage to the EU in any future negotiations. Labour must reprioritise fighting for a comprehensive Brexit over attempts at scoring cheap Party political points against the Conservatives.  

In the 2017 General Election, 61% (159) of the 262 constituencies won by Labour, voted Leave in the EU Referendum. Only 39% of Labour MPs were successful where the electorate voted to Remain in the European Union. Labour’s Brexit cowardice cannot be accepted by Party Members and voters any longer.

Labour deserves a better Party Leader than Jeremy Corbyn, who has been an unprecedented failure. Last week he recorded the lowest ever rating for a Leader of the Opposition – with a negative rating of minus 57% in an Ipsos Mori poll. Corbyn represents Brexit ambiguity. It’s about time Labour represented its 3.9 million Labour Brexit voters, instead of its Far-Left Frontbench, along with Jeremy Corbyn and his extremist zealots. If the Labour Party is to play any part in shaping Great Britain’s future after we Get Britain Out of the EU, it needs a new Leader and a pro-Brexit global vision for the future – or will it be time for a new Leadership race? 

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    Joel Casement
    Joel Casement is a Research Executive at the cross-party, grassroots campaign Get Britain Out. Previously he graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a First Class Degree in History.
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