Time for UK Labour to back remain and call for a new referendum

17 May 2019

Speaking in relation to the latest development in the UK on negotiations around Brexit, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, called on the British Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to back the UK remaining in the European Union and to call for a new referendum, as today’s Euroscepticism could be tomorrow’s appeasement of the far right across Europe.

Brendan said: “The breakdown of talks between the British Labour Party and the Conservative government of Theresa May signals the near-impossibility of there being a parliamentary majority in Westminster on any coherent direction for Brexit policy.

“As I have consistently said on the issue of Brexit, British workers never voted to be poorer. The UK media has only really debated the ins and outs of Brexit following the referendum, and people are much better informed now than they were in June 2016.

“People have also come to realise that the millionaire Farage does not genuinely have any interest in the damaging effect of Brexit on working people. Farage’s new Brexit Party is today’s equivalent of Oswald Mosley’s New Party. Like the transformation of UKIP into the Brexit Party, Mosley’s New Party became the British Union of Fascists and later the British Union, in order to stay one step ahead of public understanding of its real agenda. Many decent people were hoodwinked into supporting Oswald Mosley, just as many have been fooled by Farage into thinking that a no deal Brexit represents some kind of emancipation.

“Let’s be clear. A no deal Brexit would cause irreparable damage to the British economy and the conditions of working people. Britain outside of Europe will be weaker, and Europe without Britain will be more at risk from the rise of far right nationalists.

“The risk now is that ‘no deal’ will be the default option from Westminster’s inability to find a way forward. There needs to be decisive action on this side of the summer, rather than hoping that MPs will magically change their minds over the summer months.

“A general election would not break the deadlock, as neither Labour nor the Conservatives can put a clear position to the people, unless Labour chooses to campaign on a Remain platform.

“It would be perfectly democratic and sensible to put this issue back to the people in a fresh people’s vote, with a choice between the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement or continued membership of the European Union. Irish Labour and our partners in the Party of European Socialists would welcome the UK’s continued involvement in the heart of the European project.

“We need to transform Europe, to take real action on climate, on affordable housing and on better pay and security for working people. Everything that Jeremy Corbyn wants to achieve in terms of national industries and stronger public services can be better achieved from inside the European Union.

“Britain made the mistake under Neville Chamberlain of trying to remain aloof from the mainstream of European affairs, which created more space for the rise of the far right. If the British Labour Party is sincere about its desire to fight far right nationalism and exploitative capitalism, then it should join with its friends and comrades in European socialism to take on these forces directly as a full member of the European Union. We need a strong Britain, led by internationalists, to help us build a stronger, democratic socialist Europe.”

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