Brexit: Why we haven’t left the Labour Party (yet)

Main points of correspondence sent to Labour Party HQ in early February 2017 by Tony Burrage and myself (Hilary Burrage):

…   Currently we are extremely unhappy about our Labour membership – which is a great shame after some 40 years each of being in the Party. We both feel that the direction of the Party since the EU referendum has been disastrous, and every day convinces us even more strongly that our alarm is entirely justified.

Whilst there might have been a time when we could accept that Jeremy Corbyn was likely to ‘lead’ the Labour Party for a while, unfortunately that time is now long past. Mr Corbyn has a closed mind, decades out of synch with any possible reality, and on the EU he appears completely deaf to either reason or even political common sense or decency.

Unless the direction of travel changes, the Labour Party will shortly come to a point of no return from which politically we cannot recover and, much more importantly, Labour will also have been the underlying but very real architect of the worst fate to have been inflicted on the UK in our seven decades of experience.

Mr Corbyn’s position is tenable neither in respect of what is best for the country, nor in respect of any serious considerations of even his version of ‘democracy’.

We already, every one of us, know the Brexit positions were largely lies, we know that many were wilfully excluded from the vote, and we know that the world – in part thanks to Brexit and its success in encouraging widespread lack of respect for proper evidence – is a far less safe or stable place than it was even last June. We also know that only about a third of even the electorate permitted to vote (NB not all were actually enfranchised), chose Leave.

And now we see Theresa May claiming in her attempt at a Brexit White Paper that she has 65 million British people solidly behind her. This grim lie needs to be refuted at every turn, and the whole calamity of Brexit must be relegated to history as soon as possible; already we see the ‘opportunities’ which the Tories are grasping to bring the NHS and other essential services out of public control.

But no, Labour continues to attempt to impose a three-line whip on Parliamentarians of good conscience who know very well what a colossally bad idea Brexit is.

Yes, we are conscious that larger numbers of working class (and unfortunately also less well informed ) voters chose to Leave. Brexit was chosen by far more older people – though not of course us – than younger ones.

(Why did anyone assume that the majority of working class Brexit voters were Labour, not working class Tories? They are in fact Conservatives, as was confirmed after this letter was sent, so the betrayal of Labour in supporting Brexit is even greater.. )

Whatever, in rejecting even the logic of RemaIN Jeremy Corbyn is also ensuring that the large majority of young people who agree with that logic will perceive (correctly) that Labour does not represent their interests and concerns.

It would be really silly to suppose this does not matter. Promotion of the EU cause would encourage current young non-voters to believe in Labour. Mr Corbyn’s position however provides plenty of reason for them to see Labour as a political party of the past, not of the future.

Any of the factors above, singly, should have been enough to ensure that Her Majesty’s Opposition does what it is supposed to do – which is, in such important and dangerous situations, to oppose the threat. All together, the logic and validity of a pro-Europe position is irrefutable. Jeremy Corbyn as Leader has let us down quite appallingly and we fear that his disastrous course will continue unless he is, very soon, to go.

We must be thankful that there are others, on the moderate Left, who are now promoting a more informed and progressive approach. It is they whom we must support.

Which takes us to the reason we have not as yet foreclosed on our membership….

There are numbers of Labour MPs for whom we have considerable regard. Very commendably, some of them have already refused to follow the whip on Brexit, and others, it is plain for all to see, would really like to follow their consciences rather than the whip, and refuse likewise.

We are appalled that Jeremy Corbyn has placed good people, with carefully considered and positive views on the EU, in such a horribly compromising position. Because of this we feel at present that retaining our membership could be helpful in the fairly short term, to support those who are wrestling so uncomfortably with their consciences and their decent common sense.

As continuing members of the Labour Party we have some glimmer of hope that our view will be acknowledged; if we left we know it will not be. That is the reason we remain at least for now fully paid up (but not any more contributing) Party members.

These are very sad times, and we can only hope as many people as possible will find ways to change the direction of the Labour Party before, as we fear may still happen, it destroys both itself and Britain’s proper place in Europe.


About Hilary Burrage
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4 Responses to Brexit: Why we haven’t left the Labour Party (yet)

  1. You make some excellent points. I too feel a deep sense of disappointment with Corbyn. It seems in many respects that he is doing dictator May`s job for her.

  2. Precisely. The critique that there’s no ‘real Opposition’ in UK politics is sticking, I fear.

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