Why Labour needs to throw its weight behind a new public vote

11 May 2019


An internal debate is raging amongst Labour party members. There are those who wish to see Brexit through with a Labour government, who believe that Labour can deliver a Brexit which prioritises jobs and workers. Then you have those who believe that the only way out of the current Brexit mess is another referendum.


On the one hand, the argument is that a new vote would be undemocratic, but on the other there is the opinion that all alternative options – including a general election – have been exhausted or unmaterialised and that, as party policy states, the last option is a new public vote.


Recently a new argument has emerged, one that suggests that the rising popularity of the Brexit Party means we should acknowledge the public desire to see the result of the 2016 referendum implemented, but this is farcical at best.


Yes, the party itself is polling highly and that is alarming, however, if you look at recent YouGov polling for the upcoming European Elections, parties who either outright or vaguely support a second vote (Labour included) are at 49%. Additionally, more surveying conducted by YouGov found that 72% of Labour members support the idea of a second referendum.


There is no such thing as a ‘jobs first’ Brexit, we know this from the fleeing companies and investment seen in the past few months, as well as the warnings from heads of business. Nissan and Honda have already been cutting investments and jobs in the UK. It is certainly extraordinary times when the Confederation of British Industry and Trades Union Congress join forces to express concern about the Brexit process. Indeed trade union members have been found to support another public vote, with 59% of Unite members and 66% of Unison members backing a second referendum.  



The Brexit process has been exposed for the shambles that it is. A job’s and worker’s first Brexit does not exist, and Labour has a duty to be honest about that. Those of us in the Labour Party should hold our values of internationalism and solidarity high. Brexit was the brainchild of the far-right, and to support it would be to side with the likes of Jacob Reese-Mogg, Boris Johnson, and Nigel Farage.


Senior Shadow Cabinet ministers, including Tom Watson, Kier Starmer, and Emily Thornberry, have voiced their support for a second public vote with Remain on the ballot paper – as well as many other Labour MPsThese Shadow Cabinet members have stuck their head above the parapet and have the best interests of the country at heart.


A second public vote would give the people the opportunity to really choose between the visions which have been set out over the past few years. Pandering to the political right was how we ended up with Brexit in the first place. We cannot do so again. 

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