By Dave Stockton
Around 100 people packed a meeting room in Parliament on Thursday to hear nine left-wing Labour MPs call for a ‘final say’ on Brexit, at a meeting organised by campaign group Another Europe Is Possible.
The MPs – Rosie Duffield, Ged Killen, Clive Lewis, Rachel Maskell, Chi Onwurah, Matt Rodda, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Alex Sobel and Paul Sweeney, all reported on the increasing sense of alarm, particularly amongst young people, about the slide towards Brexit, and all stressed the importance of not severing our ties with Europe.
But only Clive Lewis openly criticised the way the Labour leadership was conducting its opposition to Theresa May’s deal, pointing out that Jeremy Corbyn’s offer of negotiations made it look like Labour supported Brexit. He warned that if Labour ended up being held responsible in any way for Brexit, it would be as devastating as the Liberal Democrats participation in the coalition in 2010-2015.
The MPs argued that Labour must take a clear internationalist stance on immigration and defend it as a positive for working class people. Lewis pointed out that those who identify Leave with the working class are making a big mistake. Many working class people, including most Labour voters and Black and ethnic minority people voted Remain, recognising the racist assumptions underlying Brexit.
The meeting heard MPs put make the case for a left wing alternative to Brexit, which links opposition to Brexit with an alternative programme that shows that a socialist Labour government is the solution, not reducing immigration or leaving the EU.
On the critical question of a new referendum, Lewis argued that May’s deal is the only one on offer and that it should simply be put to the people. If it was rejected that would mean remaining in the EU. If we want – as Jeremy Corbyn says – a socialist Europe then the only sensible starting point is fighting against the undemocratic and pro-capitalist institutions of the EU.
Several of the MPs supported the call for a ‘final say’ or ‘ratification’ referendum, but with the exception of Clive, none were willing to criticise the leadership’s tactics.
During the opportunity for contributions from the floor, a Red Flag supporter said that Brexit is a national symptom of a wider European crisis, and that the best way to strengthen a left-wing Labour government is to build a pan-European movement against austerity and the racist right, in solidarity with migrants, and united by a common struggle for socialist solutions.
A model for starting to assemble such forces could be the international European movements of the 2000s, like the European Social Forum. These struggles prove it can be done again.
Red Flag supporters are active in the Labour Campaign for a Socialist Europe, where we are calling for the labour movement to commit to a new European Social Forum to assemble activists and organisations to debate a strategy for common action.