Tribalism wins out over conviction?

(23 May, 2019) Editorials

If there ever was a time to break ranks and vote with your conscience, that time is now

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Neil Coyle, Helen Hayes and Harriet Harman have written numerous columns in this paper saying Brexit is a huge threat to our country’s wealth, health and prosperity.

In this week’s News, Hayes outlined the party’s position most clearly.

Labour, as Southwark Council leader Peter John has said before, sees Brexit as a distraction from the bigger issues of austerity.  If we could just have a general election and watch the Tories implode with in-fighting, a Labour government could get to work fixing our social ills.

But frankly this isn’t good enough.

The idea that voting for Labour MEPs is not a ‘single-issue vote’ on Brexit, but rather would ensure Labour values are represented in Europe, is laughable. If we leave Europe we’ll have no representation in its parliament, but this is the kind of double-think the party is increasingly employing as it tries to keep Remainers and Leavers happy and not collapse in the polls.

Whatever your view on the EU, the strongest parties have an agreed policy and do not deviate from their key message – whether in favour or against Brexit.  The responses from Coyle, Hayes and our council leader, Peter John – and the lack of a substantive one from Harman – are all tellingly different and point to Labour’s internal disarray.

Labour is against ‘Tory Brexit’ – but does that mean for a softer Brexit?

Labour has stopped Brexit by pushing for an extension – but doesn’t want a second referendum unless they can get in power.

Labour has many Remain MPs – but they’re seemingly at odds with its leadership.

Labour wants a confirmatory vote – but what is the best outcome? Brexit or not?

Hayes is right that the Liberal Democrats and Green Party are not, despite the PR, wholly populated by ardent Remainers.

Publicly endorsing another party would be career suicide for an MP.

This week, Lord Heseltine was chastised by the Tories for encouraging Remainers to vote Lib Dem. Margaret Hodge was also criticised by Labour for saying pro-EU Labour members should back other parties. And who knows which direction the Tories could go in with a new leader.

Whether they like it or not, today’s vote will send a key message on Brexit to the main parties. If there ever was a time to break ranks and vote with your conscience, that time is now.

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