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On Friday July 20 a “private roundtable discussion” was held in Belfast in the Shankill Women’s Centre, hosted by Houston Solutions on behalf of the People’s Vote Campaign.
Labour peer Andrew Adonis was present to put the case for a People’s Vote Campaign (PV) on Brexit, the same PV campaign that organised a poll of Unite members, which, according to them, showed that “57 per cent of members backed a public vote on Theresa May’s final Brexit deal, while 34 per cent are opposed.”
The poll paid for by the PV involved slightly over 900 of Unite’s 1.4 million members, or 0.06 per cent.
This is also the same Blairite Adonis who refuses to support Jeremy Corbyn’s policies and who has called for his resignation.
Adonis argued that a vote of the people is needed on any Brexit deal as we did not know what the Brexit agreement would be when we voted in 2016. This is one way of explaining away the undemocratic nature of holding a second referendum.
Scaremongering about the Irish border and the peace process was in the offing. Sums of money regarding the billions of pounds in exit costs were juxtaposed with the need for spending on the NHS.
The audience had some serious concerns about leaving the EU and the NHS was one of the most talked-about issues. One question asked was: “What if Brexit is not the most important issue but getting Jeremy Corbyn in government with a manifesto that proposes a number of things including ending the privatisation of the NHS and renationalisation of the public services is?”
Adonis’s answer to that was he would love to see “a Labour government in power and that it is possible to stay in the EU and have a better deal.”
He did not mention Corbyn or the manifesto.
In promoting a People’s Vote, which according to its webpage has a petition with up to 228,142 signatures on it, he encouraged the setting up of People’s Vote Northern Ireland and of organising a PVNI demonstration here in the autumn.
PV is also associated with Open Britain — an organisation that makes no bones about its support for the EU defence policy and the billions needed for this.
Open Britain states that “the UK’s strength in the world derives from our historic commitment to internationalism [sic].”
To quote Communist Party of Britain leader Rob Griffiths: “Senior European officials have told The Times that concerns over Labour’s economic policies are the main reason for the EU’s insistence on a tough ‘level playing field mechanism’ in a future deal after Britain leaves. Any ‘soft’ Brexit is a trap to prevent a left-led Labour government pursuing policies that put the working class and the people before big business profiteering. The only ‘People’s Vote’ we need is a general election.”
The irony about the event, which was a cross-community meeting of about 35 women, was that it was held in the heartland of the Democratic Unionist Party, and that some in the audience began to question their support for the DUP’s stance, probably because it is aligned with the anti-working-class policies of the Conservative Party.
In spite of the fact that this was only his second time in Belfast, Adonis has now become an expert on the situation in North, issuing a statement to Theresa May on how to deal with the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Some students and some of the women he met intend to get involved with the People’s Vote, but by his own admission he did not meet any Brexit (or Lexit) people while he was here.
Lynda Walker is chair of the Communist Party of Ireland.
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