More than 17,000 people have emailed the Labour Party in the past five days to demand the party establishes a Brexit policy commission, following a campaign by Open Britain and the Labour Campaign for the Single Market. The emails will be looked at by Labour’s National Policy Forum (NPF), which includes every member of the shadow cabinet, when they meet for their annual policy meeting this weekend in Leeds.
The email campaign follows a letter from more than 30 Labour MPs, MEPs and activists last Thursday to the party’s National Executive Committee. Currently, the NPF is organised into eight policy commissions, each of which is running a public consultation on a key issue in the lead-up to the party’s annual conference in the autumn. But none of the commissions are inviting submissions on Brexit. The International Policy Commission, on which the Shadow Brexit Secretary and Shadow Foreign Secretary sit, is focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals.
At conference last year, there was a concerted effort by some in the party to stop Brexit being chosen as a priority issue for discussion and debate. This meant that whilst there were some superficial sessions on it in the conference hall, there was no vote and the views that had been expressed by local Labour branches all over the country were effectively junked.
Currently, 17,139 emails have been received by the Commission as a result of the campaign. At this weekend’s gathering the National Policy Forum will discuss Brexit briefly in an hour-long session on Sunday morning. But a leaked draft of the International Policy Commission’s ‘Priority Issue Document’ shows that party members and the public will be asked for their views on eight questions on the Sustainable Development Goals, and none on Brexit.
Heidi Alexander MP, Co-Chair of the Labour Campaign for the Single Market and leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“We can't keep brushing this under the carpet. The fact that more than 17,000 people have been in touch with the party to share their views on Brexit in the last five days alone speaks volumes.
“Without this campaign, it is genuinely not clear how Labour members supporters and the public are meant to contribute to the Party's policymaking on the biggest issue we face as a country.
“Local labour branches all over the country have been debating this issue for a year and a half, and yet when it came to party conference in September the motions they had passed and the views they expressed were effectively junked.
“This is frankly astonishing, and it simply isn’t good enough. We urgently need to see the creation of a Brexit policy commission, but we also need to see a step-change in the way the party deals with Brexit, and the way it engages with the membership on this most important of issues.”
Francis Grove-White, Deputy Director of Open Britain, said:
“The fact that in the year in which our future relationship with the EU is being negotiated, the Labour Party has eight policy commissions but not one focuses on Brexit, is frankly ridiculous.
“It is time for all those in Parliament who care about preventing a hard and destructive Brexit to stand up and be counted. We hope this campaign will help persuade the Labour Party to treat these issues with the attention and importance they deserve.”
Alison McGovern MP, Co-Chair of the Labour Campaign for the Single Market and leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“This shambles of a Government have proved they’re not up to the task of dealing with Brexit. They have mismanaged this process from start to finish and at every stage they’ve put the wishes of extreme Brexit ideologues like Jacob Rees-Mogg above the well-being of our country.
“The Labour Party should show the country that there’s a different path we can take. But in order to do so, we have to have an open conversation about the best way forward. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand. Now is the time for the Labour Party to reject this extreme Tory Brexit and instead chart a progressive path forward.”