The Labour party’s Brexit stance is the grownup thing to do | Letters

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Judith Daniels and Jon Griffith support Jeremy Corbyn’s approach, while other readers disagree – including Nick Wakeling, his Lib Dem opponent in Islington North

It was a joy to read Polly Toynbee’s article (Swinson’s move to revoke hands Labour a golden opportunity, Journal, 17 September). With the Lib Dems and Tories adopting extreme Brexit positions, Labour is indeed the “thoughtful” party. Some of us have known this all along. Jeremy Corbyn has been the only one to recognise that the only way to chart a course for a steadier future is to bring our people together. The temptation of these populist times is to serve up simple soundbites when what the nation needs is a lasting, credible settlement.

The unanimous joint trade union position (the Tulo group, representing some 4 million workers) offers this. Labour would negotiate the best possible deal and then put it to the people for a vote on the deal versus remain. If that deal is the best for the people, then let it stand on its merits – let the voters speak. This is surely the only way to ensure that both leavers and remainers have a stake in the vote.

Polly, you cannot have it both ways, praising Labour for following the responsible road to unity, and then denouncing its stance as “absurd”. On the contrary, it is the grownup thing to do in these divided, uncertain times. It deserves the wholehearted support not just of our movement but of democrats everywhere.
Len McCluskey
General secretary, Unite the Union

• I was impressed with Jeremy Corbyn’s column (Only Labour will give the people a final say on Brexit, Journal, 18 September), and maybe his party’s tortured Brexit policy is now bearing fruit. For so long it has been unclear what Labour’s strategy was, but at last we can see the wood for the trees. Although, it has been a masterclass of equivocation and misleading messages.

He is right to wait until no deal is off the table for a general election and then renegotiate, and finally present his deal to the ultimate beneficiaries in a referendum. Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems have made a serious error in their latest approach, and this may come back to bite them because they have always been so resolute about the necessity for a people’s vote.
Judith Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

• Jeremy Corbyn will never become prime minister if he fails to be re-elected as MP. I am standing against him to defeat his so-called sensible position, because it is in direct contrast to the huge support for remain among Islington North voters. They voted 78.4% for remain in 2016 – the fourth-highest remain vote in the country.

In 2017 these voters gave him the benefit of the doubt on Brexit, but since then he has continued to take them for granted. As a result, the people of Islington North increasingly see his position on Brexit as frustrating, not sensible. They have been let down for too long and have had enough. We saw this when the Liberal Democrats swept in to beat Labour and win Islington with a clear “stop Brexit” message in the EU elections earlier this year.

In failing to accept that the best deal is to remain and only begrudgingly backing a people’s vote, he is again set for a massive upset. Unless he starts to listen to his local voters and back remain wholeheartedly, after the next election he may just find himself spending more time on his allotment. Part of me wonders if, deep down, he wouldn’t really mind.
Nick Wakeling
Liberal Democrat prospective MP candidate for Islington North

• Tom Watson (Back remain to attract lost Labour voters, says Watson, 11 September), and others who share his view (Chief whip joins calls for party to back remain, 14 September), seem not to grasp the electoral arithmetic. Of course Labour’s strategy has lost remain votes to the Lib Dems, as well as leave votes to the Tories and the Brexit party. But many of the lost remain votes don’t matter: they are in seats like Jeremy Corbyn’s, which Labour will win anyway; or in constituencies like North Cornwall, which Labour will never win – and losing votes to the Lib Dems in North Cornwall will have the added benefit of helping unseat a Tory. By contrast, losing more leave votes to the Tories, or to the Brexit party, endangers Labour’s hold on dozens of its marginal seats, and reduces its chances of winning in dozens more marginals held by Tories, especially where the Lib Dems are a distant third. If you want to remove this (or any future) Tory government, you have to vote intelligently, constituency by constituency, and Watson is allowing his ideological preferences to muddy the necessary calculations.
Jon Griffith
Hastings, East Sussex

• It is all very well for Jeremy Corbyn to say he would let the people decide on Brexit, but which people? Will he agree that this time around those of us very directly affected, European citizens in Britain and British citizens on the continent, will also get a vote, or do we have to sit back again while others decide our fate?
Marianne Gemmeke
Eastleigh, Hampshire

• Labour neutrality in any public vote on Brexit will guarantee that Brexit will succeed – which is, no doubt, what Jeremy Corbyn has wanted all along.
David Melvin
Mossley, Greater Manchester

• Maybe we are nearly all partly right – Labour, Lib Dem, Green et al, including some honest Tories. Maybe the mistake is the notion that a non-binary problem can be solved by a binary vote. However, as Pliny the Younger pointed out in 105AD, in a multi-option debate, if there is no majority for any one thing, there is a majority against every single thing.

So, on complex issues, votes in parliament, referendums, party conferences etc should be multi-optional and, ideally, preferential.
Peter Emerson
The de Borda Institute

• The fourth letter above was amended on 19 September 2019. An earlier version referred to Eastbourne where North Cornwall was intended; the letter writer had submitted a corrected version of the letter before it was published, but this was not noticed until after publication.


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