Labour base shifts on Brexit

Submitted by Matthew on 31 January, 2018 - 10:47 Author: Rhodri Evans
Labour against brexit demo

The base for a left-wing campaign in the labour movement to defend and extend free movement, and to stop Brexit, is expanding.

A recent poll has shown a four-to-one majority of existing and potential Labour voters want Labour to back permanent membership of the EU’s single market and customs union.

Another indicates that nearly as many Labour pro-Brexit people are now in favour of a second referendum (39%) as are against it (43%). A second referendum would attract overwhelming support from that majority of Labour voters who favour remaining in the EU.

Overall, 65% of Labour backers want the public to have the final say on a Brexit formula. Only 19% oppose that.

Jeremy Corbyn is reported to be fixing an “away day” for the Shadow Cabinet to discuss shifting Labour policy to favour permanent membership of the EU customs union. An “away day” is inferior to having Labour conference debate the issue — as it was blocked from doing in September 2017, but could do in September 2018 — but suggests movement.

The fundamental case against Brexit and for free movement is left-wing — the case for lower borders, for international integration, for liberty.

The ruling class is split on the issue. Big business is keeping a low public profile, but coverage in the Financial Times and the Economist suggests strong pressure from top bosses on the Tories for “certainty” and minimum disruption.

Reflecting their views, on 25 January chancellor Philip Hammond told global plutocrats in Davos that he saw Britain moving only “very modestly apart” from the EU.

Hard Brexit Tory MPs denounced Hammond, and Prime Minister Theresa May felt obliged to distance herself, but generally the Tory hard Brexit camp is at sixes and sevens.

Its promises from before the June 2016 referendum — more cash for the NHS, easy and quick new trade deals with non-EU states — are now a mockery.

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