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The independent London newspaper

Labour must step forward and ensure we stay in the EU

04 January, 2019

• IT was good to read Doug Crawford’s analysis of the huge contribution membership of the European Union makes to the people of north-west London, (EU: the cost of leaving, December 27). For those in poorer parts of Britain the cost is even higher.

Whether they live in the former mining valleys of Wales, or towns like Oldham which once built their prosperity on the cotton industry, families up and down Britain rely on EU support. Losing it would be a tragedy.

Nor can we allow Theresa May to run down the clock, so that there is no choice but “my deal or no deal”.

That is why I support the call from Frances O’Grady, the Trades Union Congress general secretary, for the suspension of Article 50 and a second referendum on May’s deal.

As O’Grady said in her new year message it is time for the government to “step aside” and give the people a final say “one way or another”.

“Theresa May’s deal doesn’t protect working people’s jobs and rights but, instead of offering a real alternative, the prime minister wants to bully the people of this country into backing her,” she argued.

The time has come for the Labour Party to step forward and play the role for which it was founded: speaking on behalf of working people and their families. In over a century we haven’t ducked the hard tasks.

We know that Jeremy Corbyn can campaign with passion when he chooses. He now needs to show his mettle and fight for Britain’s right to change its mind and stay in the EU. It doesn’t matter how this is done: it is the outcome that is important.

If he took up the cause Corbyn would have the overwhelming backing of the labour movement. He would be supported by the Labour members he promised to represent – 86 per cent of whom want to remain, according to polling by the Financial Times.

He would have the backing of the vast majority of his own MPs, who know full well what a terrible impact Brexit would have on their constituents.

No wonder a majority of voters in all seats held by Labour now support a second referendum on Brexit. And finally – as Frances O’Grady’s statement makes clear – he would be supported by our trade union allies.

Labour needs to fight with every ounce of energy it can muster to remain in the EU. If we fail to do this we will have failed the British people.

If the Lib Dems are left to carry the Remain banner, why should the 16,141,241 people who voted to stay inside the EU support Labour in the future?

And what about the millions of young men and women who were denied the vote back in 2016, who strongly believe that Europe is their future? Labour could pay a terrible price for this abdication of our responsibility.

MARTIN PLAUT
Ryland Road, NW5

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