Suffolk Labour Parties back clear remain vote in any future referendum

PUBLISHED: 11:30 23 September 2019

Jeremy Corbyn's position on the EU is being challenged at the Labour Party conference. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn's position on the EU is being challenged at the Labour Party conference. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Labour parties from Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal have backed a conference motion calling on the national organisation to campaign to remain in the EU in a future second referendum – against the wishes of leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour Party Conference in Brighton has exposed new splits in the party's Brexit policy - with Mr Corbyn and several trade union leaders wanting to wait until a deal to leave the EU has been negotiated before it is decided what the party's attitude to it might be.

Some Labour MPs from constituencies in the north of England where there was a very high leave turnout feel that the party could be vulnerable in future if it had a strong pro-remain policy.

All Suffolk's constituencies voted to leave the EU in 2016, but Ipswich MP Sandy Martin - elected the following year - has made it clear he would like to stay in.

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But he felt it was irrelevant tying the party down to a position in a referendum. He said: "The important thing is that it is now policy to have a referendum with two options - leaving with a credible deal and staying in the EU.

"I do not believe that any deal to leave will be as good as staying in the EU and I am sure most Labour supporters in Ipswich feel the same way. But there are those who would prefer to leave with a deal. I don't think there is any point in having hypothetical discussions at this stage."

The composite motion says that in a referendum Labour should reflect the overwhelming view of its members and voters who want to stay in the EU and campaign "energetically" for a public vote to stay while recognising the rights of members who want to argue another view.

Ipswich Labour Party delegate George Lankester said the motion had the support of many parties from across the country - and it was important to allow those who did not want to remain to campaign to express their views.

While Ipswich had voted to leave the EU, he said it was clear that almost all Labour members and most Labour voters in the town did want to remain: "In the end in a second referendum you have to do what you think is best - and a lot has changed since the first referendum and we find many people on the doorsteps can now see what has happened and may think differently now."

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