And so onto the Brexit debate. Both sides wanted to ensure that there was a single motion, and the composite meeting had agreed a single set of words. This topic was supported by more organisations than any topic ever, with over 100 supporting the positions of either the People’s Vote or Another Europe is Possible. CLPD had circulated a set of words, which reinforced Labour’s commitment to the six tests, and were supported by considerably less organisations. To some extent we remainers have won the debate in the Labour Party; there were no motions to leave no matter what and the six tests mean both the customs union and single market are to be part of Labour’s deal.

So Labour will vote against any deal made by the Government; what happens then? The best result will be a General Election, but if that cannot be won, then Labour will campaign for a public vote and consider placing remain on the ballot. Here’s Kier Starmer’s speech.

 

Both John McDonnell and others have suggested that we will not consider Remain, but if neither the Tories nor Labour can negotiate a deal then we must and the composite establishes it as policy, or re-establishes it as the 2016 Conference made clear that if the Tory deal wasn’t good enough then Labour would seek a second mandate, an election, referendum or a parliamentary vote to remain. See also Labour’s New Brexit, from 2016 on this blog.

I sought to speak in this debate but wasn’t called. Some of the points I wanted to make were obvious, that a Tory brexit would be a catastrophe, that our policy was based on the six tests and that remain was an option as we would seek a second mandate. I would have argued that you can’t respect a referendum with all the cheating, illegalities and lying but one can respect the leave voters. In fact it’s this respect that leads me to ask if the deal on the table is what they want. I’d expect every Trade Unionist in the room to want to ensure that a deal satisfied those who had given the mandate. I would have made the point that Jeremy’s 7/10 score for the EU is right, that if we stay we need some reforms for the whole EU, and we would be welcome for it, and that much of what’s wrong with the EU is the outcome of policy debates and not a systemic quality of the EU. Labour’s manifesto even on Brexit is a radical promise for government that will allow is to work with our shell shocked sister parties and allies in the EU.

I wasn’t going to use the “Pointless or Catastrophe” line, it wasn’t the right debate, but I consider it a fabulous summing up of the choice between a soft brexit or hard brexit.

I have posted the six tests and the words of the motion below.

ooOOOoo

Starmer’s six tests for the Brexit deal are:

  1. Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?
  2. Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?
  3. Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities?
  4. Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?
  5. Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?
  6. Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?

Composite 5 – Brexit

Conference welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s determined efforts to hold the Tories to account for their disastrous negotiations. Conference accepts that the public voted to leave the EU, but when people voted to ‘take back control’ they were
not voting for fewer rights, economic chaos or to risk jobs. Conference notes the warning made by Jaguar Land Rover on 11.9.18, that without the right deal in place, tens of thousands of jobs there would be put at risk.

Conference notes that workers in industries across the economy in ports, food, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy, chemicals, in our public services and beyond are worried about the impact of a hard Brexit on livelihoods and communities.

Conference believes we need a relationship with the EU that guarantees full participation in the Single Market. The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland and the NHS. Tory Brexit means a future of dodgy trade deals and American-style deregulation, undermining our rights, freedoms and prosperity. This binds the hands of future Labour governments, making it much harder for us to deliver on our promises.

Conference notes Labour has set six robust tests for the final Brexit deal. Conference believes Labour MPs must vote against any Tory deal failing to meet these tests in full.

Conference also believes a no-deal Brexit should be rejected as a viable option and calls upon Labour MPs to vigorously oppose any attempt by this Government to deliver a no-deal outcome. Conference notes that when trade unions have a mandate to negotiate a deal for their members, the final deal is accepted or rejected by the membership. Conference does not believe that such important negotiations should be left to government ministers who are more concerned with self-preservation and ideology than household bills and wages.

Stagnant wages, crumbling services and the housing crisis are being exacerbated by the government and employers making the rich richer at working people’s expense, and not immigration.

Conference declares solidarity and common cause with all progressive and socialist forces confronting the rising tide of neo-fascism, xenophobia, nationalism and right wing populism in Europe.

Conference resolves to reaffirm the Labour Party’s commitment to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 including no hard border in Ireland. Conference believes that there is no satisfactory technological solution that is compliant with the Good Friday Agreement and resolves to oppose any Brexit deal that would see the restoration of a border on the island of Ireland in any form for goods, services or people.

Should Parliament vote down a Tory Brexit deal or the talks end in no-deal, Conference believes this would constitute a loss of confidence in the Government. In these circumstances, the best outcome for the country is an immediate General Election that can sweep the Tories from power.

If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. If the Government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.

This should be the first step in a Europe-wide struggle for levelling-up of living standards, rights and services and democratisation of European institutions Labour will form a radical government; taxing the rich to fund better public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Labour on Brexit ’18
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