A new Labour campaign has been launched to lobby for the UK’s continued Single Market membership. The campaign, launched yesterday, makes the following call to arms:
The Conservatives are putting the future of our country at risk. They are making a mess of Brexit and the Labour Party must stand up to them. We need to act now to keep the UK in the single market and the customs union. This is the only way to protect jobs, tackle austerity and defend our rights.
The positioning of the website’s language is notable for two reasons. First, it is written in explicitly anti-austerity terms, appealing directly to supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s politics. Second, the website emphasises the role of the Labour membership in pressing the case for the UK’s continued Single Market membership.
Calling on constituency Labour parties (CLPs) to submit this contemporary motion to party conference in September, the website states:
Conference is the supreme policy-making body of the Labour Party. Get Britain’s membership of the Single Market on the table for debate, by submitting this motion to your Constituency Labour Party.
There appears to be no formal leadership of the campaign, although the website names Labour MPs Heidi Alexander and Alison McGovern, who the campaign says were approached by Labour members with a view to setting up the new movement.
It is perhaps notable that Labour MP Chuka Umunna, whose “rebel” Brexit amendment earlier this year was criticised by colleagues across the parliamentary Labour Party, was one of the first to tweet about the launch of the campaign. Mr Umunna does not appear to have a formal role in the campaign, however.
Interestingly, the Labour Campaign for the Single Market privileges the UK’s membership of the trading bloc above all other concerns related to this Brexit. This is contrast to the emphasis placed on protecting free movement, which lies at the hear of the ‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement‘, supported by Owen Jones and some other luminaries of the Labour left.
There now appears to be a gathering movement across politics to prevent a hard Brexit. This weekend the Labour Party itself has clarified its position on Brexit, with the shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer stating that Labour would press for the UK’s membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union during a transitional period and perhaps in the longer term. The Observer calls this announcement a “game-changer.”
Whether the launch of the Labour Campaign for the Single Market was timed specifically to coincide with Sir Keir’s announcement has not been made clear. If not, the timing is freakishly prescient. So far, other senior frontbenchers have not commented on either the campaign launch or Sir Keir’s statement. Given previous confusion about Labour’s position, this may therefore not be a “done deal”.
Nevertheless Labour Vision welcomes any moves from within Labour to promote an alternative to austerity and policies aimed at securing British jobs for the long term. Clarity on Labour’s Brexit policy is timely and needed. We look forward to learning more.
To sign the petition for the UK’s continued membership of the Single Market, click here.