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Vote down May’s EU deal, vote Corbyn into power

Labour conference endorsed an election – not a so-called ‘people’s vote,’ says bakers’ union president IAN HODSON

AS OF writing this, the Tory government is falling apart before our eyes.

Their half-baked deal on Brexit has unravelled and Prime Minister Theresa May has lost all authority.

She appears to be naked and alone — not just in the EU but in her own party, and she is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her own Cabinet, let alone hardened Tory Eurosceptics on the backbenches.

The general election result of 2017 amounted to a vote of no confidence in May and her government.

The lack of a parliamentary majority and a divided country galvanised the negotiating position of the EU and left it holding all the aces.

The problem won’t be solved by changing the Tory leader, and a “people’s vote” will only keep the Tories in power and divide the country even more.

In May’s defence, the whole reason we are in this chaos is down to her predecessor, David Cameron.

Fearful of the rise of Ukip, he put his party before his country and promised an EU referendum during the run-up to a general election that he never expected to win.

No sooner had the EU referendum result been announced, he ran away from all responsibility, despite still holding a parliamentary majority.

Cameron is a hypocrite, a narcissist and a coward of the highest order and he will never be forgiven for this shameful betrayal of British citizens.

The timing of the EU referendum in 2016 was designed to distract us from the real issues that we faced in our country — widening inequality, a huge growth in homelessness, a crisis in our NHS, division in our communities and public services at breaking point.

While the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union holds a longstanding position in relation to the lack of democracy within the EU, we didn’t feel that a referendum was the most important issue of the day.

It was the social issues at home, along with the endless attacks on the working class that needed our attention.

The EU referendum, its result and subsequent toing and froing for the last two years has ensured that virtually every other issue affecting working-class men, women and children has been conveniently kicked into the long grass.

We need to ignore the spin from the mainstream media and accept the fact that the blame for the whole sorry situation the country finds itself in is down to the Conservatives.

It was they who subjected us to needless austerity and it was they who offered a referendum which amounted to nothing other than an illusion of choice between two different types of dog-muck.

They put their party before the country and the interests of the wealthy above those whose lives are hell on wheels.

We’ve had eight painful years at the mercy of quite possibly the worst political class the country has ever seen.

These sociopathic, ignorant, arrogant and vindictive Tories have failed us spectacularly and should be punished with extreme prejudice at the ballot box, not thrown another lifeline by a “people’s vote.”

So let’s have a general election, wipe them out and consign their disgusting racist, anti-working-class political agenda to the waste bin of history, where it belongs.
 
And I feel it’s important to clarify to those in the Labour Party who may be wavering and thinking of backing May’s deal, and those suggesting somehow Corbyn is backtracking on conference policy.

At no point during the shambolic six-hour composite meeting did we commit Labour to holding any form of people’s vote, still less did we advocate an option of remaining in the EU. Neither did we contradict our commitment to respect the outcome of the first referendum.

What we did decide was that we would oppose May’s EU withdrawal agreement if we judged that it failed to meet Labour’s six tests.   

Were May’s deal to fall, the government’s negotiating strategy would be in tatters, and it is far from clear that any Tory successor to May would be able to command a parliamentary majority in the absence of a general election.

Therefore our strategy is clear — we oppose May’s deal and demand a general election, to allow a Corbyn-led government the fix the multiple crises into which the Tories have plunged our country.

I’m talking not only about the Brexit negotiations, but just as importantly in terms of the vicious cruelty of universal credit, the crisis in our NHS and social care system, the spiralling numbers of our people left homeless on the streets or using foodbanks, the underfunding of our schools, and all the rest.

In other words, Labour stands for a radical alternative, the option of transformational change. Sadly, a minority of our MPs and some of our activists want Labour to advocate restoring the status quo, overturning the will of the first referendum but leaving us with a Tory government remaining in the EU.

Conference agreed that it’s the duty of Labour MPs to vote down May’s dodgy deal and demand the chance to kick them out in order to elect a radical Corbyn government.    

Those who would prefer to link arms with Anna Soubry and Vince Cable for a so-called “people’s vote” ahead of the demand for a general election, are choosing a different path, one that conference chose not to take.

Ian Hodson is president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

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