Labour divisions over Brexit
Jeremy Corbyn won over the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) this week after they agreed the following order of priority when it comes to Brexit:
- Firstly, get the government to agree to Labour’s alternative Brexit plan
- Secondly, trigger a General Election
- Thirdly, fight for a 2nd referendum
This row exposed deep divisions in the Labour Party, with many Labour MPs, led by the Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, calling for the party to come out clearly in favour of a second referendum in time to fight in the European elections on Thursday 23rd May. Times columnist, Rachel Sylvester, argues that, by refusing to listen to the overwhelming majority of Labour members, Corbyn has exposed himself as a hypocrite. As Theresa May sets a one week deadline for cross-party talks to reach a conclusion, this may lead things to come to a head early next week.
Extinction Rebellion gained some ground this week, with a declaration from the SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, that there is a ‘climate emergency’. The group also secured a meeting with Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, where they were able to discuss their demands. Writing in The Guardian this week, Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys called for a green new deal, echoing voices in the US Democratic Primary, who are also calling for bold policy in this area.
A “constitutional outrage”?
Despite the fact that Theresa May’s legislative agenda has stalled, Number 10 signalled that the government will not be proroguing parliament In order to bring forward a Queen’s Speech. This typically happens yearly, but there hasn’t been one for almost two years as this session of parliament was designed to get all of the Brexit legislation through in one session. Labour MP Chris Bryant described this decision as a “constitutional outrage”, because the Queen’s Speech is designed to ensure that the government has a majority in the House to pass its programme – something Theresa May is keen to avoid! There have only been 5 years since 1900 where there hasn’t been a Queen’s speech, so this is certainly an unusual situation.
In Political Thinking this week, Nick Robinson talks to Tony Blair’s former Communications Director and prominent People’s Vote campaigner, Alastair Campbell. Meanwhile, the Times Red Box podcast previews Thursday’s local elections with leading pollsters.