Labour matches Tories’ division over Brexit as Corbyn and Watson disagree over next step
There will be a certain sense of relief on the Labour benches, although prorogation means that they are not actually sitting at Westminster for the next five weeks, because just before parliament was suspended they managed to coalesce with other opposition parties and put a no deal Brexit law on the statute book.
The timing was crucial and the outcome was finally a positive one for Jeremy Corbyn, after three long years of stalemate.
However, rather than being able to build on this new strength and move confidently forward to the general election, that everyone is predicting before Christmas, it seems that the Labour Party has come unstuck, in much the same way as the Conservatives have been since 2017.
Corbyn’s deputy Tom Watson, has come out vehemently on reversing the Brexit process, while the leader still has one foot in the leave camp.
It is Watson’s contention that the party must focus on reversing Brexit altogether, and subsequently to rally around the idea of a second referendum above and beyond the notion of a general election.
Corbyn, in contrast, told a TUC conference yesterday that if Labour won the next election they would offer a referendum that would give a ‘credible leave option’.
It seems that Union bosses have made it clear to Corbyn that the disparate views in the Labour Party regarding Brexit mean that it is essential to have a leave option, so as not to ostracise swathes of grassroots Labour supporters.
In complete opposition to this, Watson vehemently suggests that there is, “no such thing as a good Brexit deal” and the Party must campaign on the basis that they will keep the UK within the European Union.
This conflict does not bode well for Labour, who could find themselves in the same Westminster battles that have paralysed both May and Johnson.
Currently the only party who is standing on a Remain ticket ( apart from the SNP and Green Party) is the Liberal Democrats and Watson is conscious of votes leaking in their direction, as revealed in the European elections in May.
However, it seems Corbyn is wisely listening to the Unions and Labour MPs in leave constituencies and feels it is vital to tread a middle road, if they are to make any impact at a general election.
Having gained some real momentum against the government by forging the ’rebel alliance’, it looks as if Labour is about to encounter the same problems that have battered Conservatives over the past few years. It seems like it will be a case of same issues, different party in another round of Brexit chaos.
second referendum before a general election
If there is any justice Watson would lose his seat - which was 68.18% Leave - at the election Labour is so obviously terrified of