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Europe – Time for a Corbyn rethink?


The Labour Party is struggling with Jeremy Corbyn’s old attachment to an anti EU stance – is it time for Corbyn to think again about his approach to Brexit?

On Thursday night in the House of Commons, nearly a quarter of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour MPs decided to vote in favour of an amendment to the Queen Speech proposed by Chukka Umunna MP.



The amendment explicitly stated that the UK should remain within the EU single market, supporting calls for a ‘soft’ exit from the EU from a significant number of MPs.


Since the EU referendum, Corbyn has adopted the stance that the electorate have voted for the UK to leave the European Union and this result must be respected. A number of prominent Labour MPs have found this stance difficult to live with and this has resulted in two substantial rebellions of Labour members in the House of Commons.


However, Corbyn’s reaction to these two rebellions has been telling. Before the General Election when members tabled an amendment to the Article 50 Bill 47 Labour MPs defied the Labour whip, he reacted in a mild way, merely cautioning the rebel MPs. However, emboldened by his positive election result he has sacked three of his shadow cabinet members.


Among Remain supporter’s Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John Mc Donnell have caused consternation with their support for Brexit. Both McDonnell and Corbyn can remember the first EU referendum in 1975 when many left wingers and members of the Labour Party voted against becoming members of the European Common Market. Their distrust of the European Common Market was based in their concern that the Common Market is a form of capitalist club which forces workers’ pay and conditions down. Despite over 40 years of European Union legislation and judgments emanating from the European Court of Justicie in support of workers’ rights, consumer rights and equal rights, Corbyn and McDonnell still press for the UK to leave the European Union.



This evening there are early reports on Sky News of Conservative Brexiteers, David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson asking that prime minister Theresa May builds in more flexibility to her negotiations. Perhaps Corbyn and McDonnell better give some thought to a more pro-European stance.




Katherine Barfield