Why we welcomed Jeremy Corbyn to Liverpool

Our van with which we welcomed Jeremy Corbyn to Liverpool yesterday. The truth about Labour’s shilly-shallying on Europe needs to be told.

Yesterday was an interesting day in Liverpool. Everyone will know about the vote in Parliament and the big rally but there are interesting details that have not been fully looked at. It is clear that unlike the Lib Dems the Labour Party have huge splits when it comes to the question of Brexit.

The Tories splits are most clear perhaps because they are the governing Party and, in theory, control the law-making process and the Parliamentary timetable. The one vote yesterday came on an amendment moved by a former Tory MP, Oliver Letwin, who had been chucked out of the Tories by Johnson. The former Tory mates in the DUP have been so angered by the proposals that will definitely lead to a break up of the United Kingdom that they reversed their vote and voted against the Tories.

I won’t spend a lot of time on the Tories. There is no Tory Party in Liverpool and they would never come here for a conference or gathering. But yesterday, for reasons which no-one outside the cult can understand, Labour decided to have a ‘rally’ in Liverpool on the same days as ‘Super Saturday’. Ironically, it was held in the Constituency of Louise Ellman who only 4 days before had quit the Labour Party saying that Corbyn should never be PM!

The Lib Dems decided to mark the occasion by pointing out that the Lexit proposed by Corbyn is as dangerous and daft as the Brexit proposed by Johnson. Firstly, though we have to try and ascertain what Labour policy is. It really depends on who you talk to or more importantly who is on the telly.

Yesterday Caroline Flint and 5 others Labour MPs voted against the delay. This was despite the Lib Dem MP for Wavertree, Luciana Berger, pointing out in a question in the House that the Government had published no analysis of the effects of the proposed deal. So, everyone was voting in ignorance of the facts and consequences of an agreement which most of them do not appear to have read at all.

Meanwhile 4 prominent Labour MPs including the Shadow Foreign Secretary were on a People’s Vote stage outside Parliament proclaiming that Labour is a Remain Party.  But that is not the view of all Labour MPs. It appears that up to 10 Labour MPs might vote this week in favour of the Johnson deal.

Further confusion is caused by what appears to be Corbyn’s position. He believes that he can negotiate a ‘Brexit for Jobs’ in 3 months which he could then put to the Country in a referendum. There are three clear reasons why this will not happen:

  1. The idea that any deal can be negotiated in 3 months is fatuous and wholly unrealistic. It took May more than 2 years to negotiate her deal. The only reason that Johnson could do one so quickly is that it is basically May’s deal but worse.
  2. There is no such thing as a Brexit for Jobs. Every scenario shows that if we leave the EU there will be less investment, less exports and less jobs.
  3. Corbyn’s deal is a none starter. It includes an ending to freedom of movement which is a basis of the EU. There won’t even be a preliminary conversation if this demand is left in.

At the end of the day then there is little difference between the Corbyn position and that of Johnson. Both will lead to less jobs, less taxes coming in, less investment in housing, schools and the NHS. Travel for individuals and goods will become more difficult and the cost of imports and holidays abroad will rise.

Yet meanwhile back in Liverpool Wavertree it would appear that both the shortlisted candidates fighting to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate believe in Corbyn’s unicorn.

We expect Tories not to be bothered about such matters. Their leaders are insulated from such concerns by their wealth. Basically, they can buy anything they want and many of them will make a profit by speculating against the £ and against British business.

Labour should know better and most of them do. The Labour Group on the Council, led by Joe Anderson, has clearly supported both a Remain position and a People’s Vote. They know as the Lib Dems do that any Brexit is a bad thing. That any Brexit will hit hardest at the poorest in our society who have the greatest need for high quality public services.

That is why we wanted to expose for the people of Liverpool to see that what local Labour councillors and MPs say locally is not the policy of those that lead Labour. Luciana Berger before leaving the Labour Party and Louise Ellman before leaving the Labour Party and Stephen Twigg and Angela Eagle who are still in the Labour Party are all Remain MPs fighting a battle in the Labour Party against their own Leader whose policy on Brexit will devastate Liverpool.

Our position as Lib Dems is absolutely clear. We want to tie any deal agreed by Parliament to a People’s Vote to either accept that deal or Remain. If that does not happen before a General Election, we will include in our manifesto a commitment to Revoke Article 50. If we get enough MPs that will be the mandate for delivering an ‘Exit from Brexit’.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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