A well attended TUC fringe meeting in Manchester heard the case for a ‘People’s Brexit’ on Tuesday evening.
Local Labour MP Graham Stringer made clear his opposition to right-wing neoliberal policies whether they came from pro- or anti-EU Tory MPs. In particular, he defended his decision not to support a Commons amendment from Tory pro-EU rebels that would have limited the ability of a future British government to reform VAT.
Theresa May’s government only narrowly won the vote. A subsequent attempt in Mr Stringer’s constituency party to censure the MP was heavily defeated.
‘Had the Tory government lost the vote on that amendment, a vote of no confidence would still be necessary in order to force its resignation – and I will always be ready to help bring that about’, Mr Stringer declared.
Criticising the call for a repeat EU referendum as ‘anti-democratic’, he insisted that the only vote needed now was a General Election to clear the Conservatives out of office.
Former Irish Congress of Trade Unions president Brian Campfield pointed out that the people of the Irish Republic had been compelled to rerun two previous referendums after voting against the Lisbon and Nice EU treaties.
‘Neither the national pro-EU establishment nor the EU accept the democratic verdict of the electors when it doesn’t go their way – hence the pressure to undermine or reverse the June 2016 decision of the peoples of Britain’, he argued.
Mr Campfield regretted that Sinn Fein had ‘traded Irish independence for Irish unity within the EU’ by abandoning its previous anti-EU stance and accused the Dublin government of violating the republic’s constitutional neutrality by engaging in joint EU-NATO structures.
Unison activist and Communist Party chair Liz Payne condemned the EU record of promoting austerity, privatisation and militarisation and warned that a left-led Labour government would be hamstrung by EU Single Market rules if Tory and EU negotiators agree a bogus post-Brexit settlement.
Lexit: the Left Leave campaign chair Robert Griffiths called for a ‘People’s Brexit’ campaign of meetings, publications and other initiatives over the next six months. He urged the labour movement to have confidence in its own ability to fight for and win fundamental change in Britain and reject the ‘anti-democratic ruling class counter-offensive’ to sabotage the referendum result.