Labour’s Brexit policy – text of the motions backed by the party conference

Labour’s Brexit policy – text of the motions backed by the party conference

The Labour Party conference yesterday agreed a policy on Brexit that would see a future Labour government negotiating a new deal with the EU, which would then be put to the country in a referendum against the option of Remain. However, the party will go into any forthcoming general election without a position as to how it would campaign in its proposed referendum: that would be decided after any such general election by a special one-day party conference.

Delegates voted by shows of hands 1) to approve Labour’s National Executive Committee’s position statement; 2) to reject a motion explicitly committing the party to “campaign energetically” to stay in the EU in a referendum (Composite 13); and 3) to approve a pro-leadership motion recommitting to a referendum “between a credible leave option and remain”, opposing a no-deal Brexit and summarising what a deal needs to achieve (Composite 14).

However, there were chaotic scenes on the conference floor as Wendy Nichols, the NEC Chair who was chairing the session, initially called the result of pro-Remain Composite 13 as carried, before correcting herself (on the advice of the party General Secretary Jenny Formby alongside her on the platform) to say that it had been lost. There were calls for a card vote where all delegates would cast a physical ballot, but the call fell on deaf ears.

So what are the texts that the Labour Conference has formally agreed as party policy? Here is the NEC statement that was approved:

The NEC welcomes Labour’s commitment to let the people decide Brexit. Labour will put control of Brexit back in the hands of the people in a new referendum with a real choice between a sensible leave deal or remain.

The NEC further welcomes the role of the Labour Party in Parliament to work crossparty to legislate against crashing out on 31 October. There is no mandate for No Deal.

After three years of shambolic Tory negotiations and parliamentary deadlock, a Labour government will get Brexit sorted one way or another within six months of coming to power, allowing us to concentrate on all the issues that matter to people most.

A Labour Government would secure a sensible leave deal with the EU within three months, and within six months would put it before the people in a referendum alongside the option to remain. Jeremy Corbyn is right to say that as a Labour prime minister he would implement the will of the British people in that referendum.

The NEC notes that the Labour frontbench has consulted with industry, trade unions and EU leaders and officials on a deal that protects jobs and investment, while respecting the 2016 referendum result.

Labour’s leave deal would include a new UK-EU customs union, a close relationship with the Single Market, protections of the Good Friday Agreement with no hard border, securing the permanent rights of 3 million EU nationals in the UK and 1 million UK nationals in Europe, guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections, and membership of key bodies to ensure joint cooperation in areas like climate change, counter-terrorism and medicines.

If people vote to leave on those terms, Labour will deliver that and leave the EU with that negotiated deal. If people vote to remain, Labour would implement that and seek to reform the EU as members. A Labour government will deliver whichever decision is made by the people of the UK.

The NEC believes it is right that the party shall only decide how to campaign in such a referendum – through a one-day special conference, following the election of a Labour Government.

And here is the text of composite motion 14 that was also passed:

Conference notes the grave danger of a damaging No Deal Brexit or Hard-Brexit being imposed by the Johnson government that would lead to job losses, reductions in living standards and workers’ rights, plus cuts in environmental and consumer protections, and a harmful trade deal with the US that would threaten the NHS.

Conference supports the party leadership continuing to prioritise the fight to block a No Deal Brexit/Hard-Brexit, using all necessary and available means, including moving a Vote of No Confidence in the Government, fighting for a general election and supporting a public vote on the terms of any departure from the European Union Conference believes that Labour is the only party that can heal the harmful divisions in our communities and thus be able to move on and address the horrendous societal problems that face us, especially those caused by ten years of austerity, ruthlessly imposed on the disadvantaged by the Tories and Lib Dems.

Whilst other parties have exacerbated polarisation, defining everyone by how they voted in the 2016 EU Referendum, Labour has tried to reach across the divide. It is a difficult navigation, but the right one.

Conference reaffirms its commitment to the approach that prioritises: the defence of people’s living standards and jobs; the maintenance of access to EU markets, with at a minimum a customs union; the protection of people’s rights; and no hard border on the island of Ireland.

Conference congratulates our party leadership and the PLP for voting in parliament: to stop Theresa May’s deal; against a No Deal exit; for a Customs Union; for alignment with the Single Market; and for a public vote – in line with the policy agreed by the 2018 Labour Party Conference.

Our party leader has made our way forward abundantly clear; a public vote on a deal agreed with the EU giving people a final say between a credible leave option and remain.

At all times, Labour will seek to overcome division and build maximum consensus around policies for the many, not the few.