Surely we should be concentrating our energies on Jeremy Corbyn, not people who are already supporting a people’s vote

Tom Brake has written a letter, a nice letter, to Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry asking them to support his Amendment, to be debated in the Commons this week, to the EU Withdrawal Bill, calling for a People’s Vote on Brexit. He said to them:

Dear Chuka and Anna,

Over the last two years we have worked cross-party to convey to the country the benefits of the UK remaining in the European Union.

Ahead of next week’s debate in Parliament, I urge you to support my amendment 19a to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which provides for the people to have the final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to vote to stay in the EU. As well as the Liberal Democrats, Plaid, Caroline Lucas (Green) and Owen Smith (Labour) are supporting the amendment.

Both of you have played prominent roles in the campaign for a People’s Vote. Now is the time to put your words into action by adding your support to this cross-party amendment and add momentum to the growing demand for a vote on the deal.

I urge you to join me on Tuesday in putting this to the House of Commons and standing up to the hard Brexit agenda which risks doing so much damage to the UK economy and our position in the world.

In the past, you have consistently put the interests of the country ahead of party politics and I hope that again you will stick to your principles and add your name to the demand that the people have a final say on the deal.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Brake

We know that they support such a thing, because they spoke at the launch of People’s Vote campaign alongside our Layla Moran, Green co-leader Caroline Lucas and the actor who for me will always be Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Patrick Stewart.

So, if we know where they stand on this issue, I’m not going to waste my time or theirs by filling up their inboxes with emails asking them to support a People’s Vote. Anna is already sounding quite fed up with people who aren’t her constituents flooding her with emails and I can see her point, to be honest.

The people who really need to be shown up for not supporting it are the Labour Party leadership. Jeremy Corbyn is helping Theresa May inflict a damaging, uncertain act of social and economic vandalism on this country. No responsible government should endanger the country’s future like this. They don’t even have a majority. The opposition could vote to put the choice back in hands of voters. If they did that, the Government would likely be defeated.

So while it wouldn’t be a bad thing if Chuka and Anna signed up to our amendment, I don’t quite understand the rationale behind singling them out when they are on our side anyway.

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17 Comments

  • Peter Martin 8th Jun '18 - 8:32am

    How about sparing some of your energies on the EU PTB? Many of us are waiting to see how far the EU will go in allowing Italy to pursue a more expansionist economic policy. I suspect that it won’t be very far at all and we’ll have a rerun of of what happened in Greece. But Italy is more of a challenge than was Greece so I could be wrong. We’ll see.

    Squashing the Greek government’s desire to break free from austerity economics came at a price of left support for the EU. If you want JC and the Labour left to be more enthusiastic about the EU do something to make them, at least, less hostile. If JC puts his heart and soul into campaigning, he can be pretty good at it, as the results of the 2017 election proved. On the other hand, as we saw in the EU ref, if his heart isn’t in it……….

  • Peter Martin 8th Jun ’18 – 8:32am……………………… If you want JC and the Labour left to be more enthusiastic about the EU do something to make them, at least, less hostile. If JC puts his heart and soul into campaigning, he can be pretty good at it, as the results of the 2017 election proved. On the other hand, as we saw in the EU ref, if his heart isn’t in it…………………

    I note how this is constantly trotted out by the media and, sadly, on LDV. I attended two meetings and he was passionate about ‘Remain’ (At one meeting the BBC were in evidence but no mention on their news).
    Sadly, for all you ‘sky falling in-ners’ he was honest (7.5 out of 10) and spoke factually about the advantages of ‘Remain’ without the hyperbole of either imminent doom or gambolling unicorns.

    As for ‘his heart not being in it’? Angela Eagle (hardly a Corbyn fan) said, at the time, “Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an agenda that would make a 25-year-old tired. He has not stopped. We are doing our best, but if we are not reported it is difficult.” and a report from Loughborough University showed him as the most effective Labour representative (no LibDem came close) in the Remain campaign.

  • paul barker 8th Jun '18 - 2:46pm

    This article completely misses the point, we are trying to persuade those who are pertsuadeable. Corbyn hasnt had a new idea since 1970, he isnt going to change his position because hes seen the light, he will change if hes forced to by pressure from his own supporters.
    The two big things putting pressure on Corbyn in the next few days are Left Labour MPs defying the Labour whip & people in Lewisham East voting Lib Dem.

  • Peter Martin 9th Jun '18 - 7:58am

    @ expats,

    You make a valid point that Jeremy Corbyn did make a much better job of arguing the Remain case than he’s generally been credited with. But to say he’s “passionate” about Remaining in the EU is stretching it a little. I don’t remember much about what he said, in that campaign, apart from him giving the EU a mark of 7 out of 10. It sounded to many like a case of damning with faint praise.

    It wasn’t just JC. There’s a lot more latent euroscepticism in the Labour Party than many might imagine. Tony Benn’s legacy is a powerful influence. Most party members, might have voted Remain themselves but it was with some reluctance. There was no great enthusiasm to put up Remain posters in front windows and gardens to anywhere near the same extent as we saw in the General election just a year later. There weren’t lots of clever little videos put out on social media.

    That’s when the Labour party really showed just what a formidable electioneering machine it can be. If the EU wants that kind of backing in any future referendum it needs to reform itself in ways that I would think are unlikely.

  • Peter Martin 9th Jun ’18 – 7:58am………..

    Peter, I say ‘passionate’ because I attended the meetings and listened; did you?

    If giving a 7+/10 is faint praise then god help exam markers (If memory serves that gets an ‘A’)

    There was EU scepticism in the Labour party long before Corbyn took over but you should remember that Corbyn has ‘energised the young vote’ and the young tended to vote ‘Remain’. Perhaps, that is why Labour supporters voted ‘Remain’ in about the same % as did we ( Labour voters (65%) and Liberal Democrats (68%), from ‘YouGuv poll, although that means numerically a lot more of ‘them’ than ‘us’).
    BTW…Prior to the vote only 52% of the public thought Labour MPs were mainly ‘Remainers’ ( the real figure is that 96% Labour MPs are pro-EU). Why the discrepancy? Well how much coverage was given to Corbyn compared to Johnson, Farage, Gove, etc.?

    You compare Corbyn/Labour’s EU referendum performance adversely with that of the 2017 election but it wasn’t that much different. Umpteen U-turns by May lost her points but, even on the eve of polling, Yougov’s final poll assessment (taken from their site) ran the headline “Final call poll: Tories lead by seven points and set to increase majority.”..”Labour won the battles of the election campaign, but the Conservatives still look almost certain to win the war”…Our final call poll for the Times has voting intention figures of CON 42%, LAB 35%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5%.
    Hence, the obvious shock and amazement by commentators as the results came in…

    The Tories and, sadly, LibDems ran a campaign much in line with the title of this thread; the fact that it didn’t work then should give us ‘pause for thought’.

  • Teresa Wilson 9th Jun '18 - 5:46pm

    @expats
    I didn’t see Jeremy Corbyn addressing meetings about the EU, so I have no idea whether he came over as passionate or not. I did see him on the Andrew Marr Show. He was asked whether people concerned about immigration wouldn’t be better off voting leave and he said yes, they would.

    How many votes did that lose the remain cause in the Labour heartlands of the north east?

  • It does seem odd that none of us saw this energetic barnstorming crusade that Corbyn apparently undertook during the referendum campaign. My main recollection is of him going on holiday for half of it. But whatever, I think we can say that his actions SINCE the referendum have not exactly been those of a passionate European. e.g. backing the Tories hard Brexit without even a murmur, sacking people from the front bench for sticking to the pro-remain line they had when he appointed them, and even this week, refusing to back this amendment.
    I agree with the main article, for what it’s worth. I’ve found the emails from Alistair Carmichael quite confusing actually.

  • Alex Macfie 10th Jun '18 - 9:30am

    JoeB: A pact with the Conservatives in the present Parliament would be about the worst thing for either the country or our party, even if we did get a referendum. The backing of a Prime Minister who can’t even get her own party to support her? I would have more confidence in an email from a Nigerian Prince offering me a share of his fortune. I know we’ve been through this ground before, but let’s recap why it would be a bad idea:
    1) A deal with the government would put off opposition MPs from supporting us on the referendum on the deal, while the extreme-Brexit Tory faction would still not support it. As there are far more potential supporters of the principle of a referendum on the deal the opposition benches than on the government benches, the chances of us getting it through with the support of the government are far lower than with backbench support.
    2) It would finish us off as an independent party. We might carry on for a while as a sub-brand of the Tories, like the National Liberals did, but we would eventually be completely consumed. You can talk about “putting country before party” but right now the Lib Dems are fighting for their very existence, and surely if you are a liberal, you should consider it in the long-term interests of the country that there should be an independent liberal force in our country’s politics.
    (3) It is wrong to suppose that the only way to influence policy and be relevant is to participate in government. The Poll Tax was defeated by opposition pressure. Rail privatisation was, er, derailed by a coalition of opposition and Tory rebels. Of course it happened, but not in the way the Tory government really wanted it done, and that is the point. Influencing policy on a single proposal is absolutely achievable from opposition (and without associating with any other government policy).
    (4) Why would the Tories agree to a time-limited deal with us when they already have a deal with the DUP for the entire term of this Parliament?

  • I like these recent announcements of specific groups like scientists, trade unionists and university employees coming out in favour of a people’s vote. The more we get of these the better. Perhaps Tom can use his influence in this way.

  • Alex,

    both the Tories and Labour are deeply split over Brexit. What is of paramount importance to both is electability – this trumps all other considerations.
    Tory Brexiteers have and will continue to vote for the government position when it comes to a choice between Brexit and the potential of forcing an early election.

    Labour Parliamentarians similarly (bar a few) will overwhelmingly follow the Labour whip rather than risk another damaging rift that would undermine the election prospects of a revitalised Labour party – even if this means voting against their principles.

    An early election might be welcomed by Labour but it is unlikely to be of much benefit to Libdems based on polling at this point in time.

    The only real prospect for a referendum lies with a proposal that is backed by the government whips.

    As for finishing off the Libdems as an Independent party, this is often trotted out without any substance. The Party’s future lies within a reformed electoral system that provides for power sharing at local and national government level. Being able to demonstrate the benefits of cross-party collaboration on critical issues like Brexit is a key element of achieving that aim. The majority of Libdem members today have joined immediately following the coalition and the EU referendum. They recognise the benefit of coalition government and support the call for a referendum on the Brexit deal.
    Opposition can amend policy but not fundamentally change it. The poll tax became a hybrid council tax (among the most regressive of taxes in the UK) and a you note rail privatisation went ahead even if in a somewhat different form. Brexit will go ahead too, perhaps with some amendments, but Brexit nonetheless.

    As to why the Tories would want the support of the Libdems in resolving the Brexit conundrum – it is as noted above the issue of the Irish border. There does not appear to be a deal to be negotiated that can be made acceptable to both the EU and the DUP. at this point in time.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Jun '18 - 5:39pm

    I agree with Alex Macfie’s criticisms of Joe B’s idea of a temporary pact with the Conservatives, but yet Joe is right to be raising the question of how we are ever to get the Government to agree to the Referendum on the deal. It doesn’t look as if the puzzled populace is yet going to be storming the gates of Downing Street, so to speak. Both main parties are totally conflicted about Brexit but determined not to give the other any advantage, so I suppose they will continue to stymie each other and not accept any of the Lords’ amendments to the Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday and Wednesday. Well, Times commentator Matthew Parris suggests a couple of cross-party amendments just might pass, one of them being concerned with a ‘meaningful vote’ allowing instruction of Ministers to go back to negotiations, and the other instructing them to ‘consider and report’ on the possibility of keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU.

    No big deal there! What is needed, of course, is for Tom Brake’s 19a amendment calling for a referendum to be passed. We can live in hope. But what I suspect is the best hope of getting Mrs May to agree to the Referendum is for the EU to reject all the fancy contortions and putting-off-the-evil day plans of her Government, bringing her to ‘point-non-plus’, so that in desperation, to avoid another General Election, she throws the decision back on The People. We can’t expedite that process, but must just go on campaigning as strongly as possible this summer, along with our allies, to rouse the voters. Project Fear really needs to be on – to show what a catastrophe we are trying to avert, to arouse the kind of protest there was against the Poll Tax. The end to be gained is worth the struggle that is likely to be needed for that purpose.

  • Teresa Wilson 9th Jun ’18 – 5:46pm…@expats…I didn’t see Jeremy Corbyn addressing meetings about the EU, so I have no idea whether he came over as passionate or not. I did see him on the Andrew Marr Show. He was asked whether people concerned about immigration wouldn’t be better off voting leave and he said yes, they would.
    How many votes did that lose the remain cause in the Labour heartlands of the north east?………………………

    I think your memory is playing tricks; I saw him on the AM Show. When asked whether his stance on immigration was tantamount to ignoring those Labour voters who were worried about immigration and felt they had no option but to vote ‘Leave’, his answer was an unequivocal, “Voting ‘Leave’ will not make the problems go away”…

    Quite the opposite of your stance.

  • David,

    it is shallow thinking in my view. It is as well to keep in mind Lord Palmerston’s advice with respect to both Foreign affairs and opportunities for constructive domestic political alliances, progressive or otherwise, from time to time

    “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

  • JoeB 11th Jun ’18 – 2:03am…………..It is shallow thinking in my view. It is as well to keep in mind Lord Palmerston’s advice with respect to both Foreign affairs and opportunities for constructive domestic political alliances, progressive or otherwise, from time to time…
    “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”……………..

    The old proverb of, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” might not be as erudite but it is rather more apt!

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