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Anti-Semitism row forces UK Labour on defensive at conference

24 September, 2018, 18:43 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn lays wreath at Hillsborough memorial

A YouGov survey of more than 1,000 Labour members for "The Observer" found 86pc support a referendum on the outcome of Brexit talks, against just 8pc who oppose it. As delegates gathered in Liverpool, one message was emblazoned on hundreds of T-shirts and tote bags: "Love Corbyn, Hate Brexit".

'If the people's party decide they want the people to have a final say on the deal, we have to respect the view of our members and we will go out and argue for it'.

The results of the survey, carried out by Campaign group Labour Against Antisemitism, indicate the issues surrounding antisemitism in the party could determine how up to 900,000 people vote.

May says she will hold her nerve in the talks, pressing the European Union to come up with an alternative proposal to her Chequers plan, named after the prime minister's country residence where a deal was hashed out with her top ministers in July.

A People's Vote campaign spokesman said the conference motion was "clear movement" towards adopting a referendum.

"My big worry is that if we go for a referendum which is seen as just a simple re-run we could divide the country again, we could get nearly the same result or if it's slightly different that people demand another referendum".

More than 100 local Labour associations submitted motions to the conference urging a public plebiscite, with a choice between leaving on terms agreed upon by the government or staying in the EU.

But with Brexit negotiations rapidly heading nowhere as the March 29 deadline looms, party members are demanding action.

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While Labour has never taken the option of a second referendum off the table, Mr Corbyn is facing intense pressure at the conference to fully back the idea. "I think the time for vagueness is over", she said. But for those, especially outside the capital, who voted to leave in frustration at a system they say is stacked against them, Brexit offers opportunity.

Labour will only consider supporting another referendum if there is no Brexit deal, and no general election.

"I am not sure there is life left in Chequers", Morgan, chair of parliament's Treasury Select Committee and a former cabinet minister under May's predecessor, told Sky News.

These centrist MPs now find themselves on the sidelines and battling for their political lives in the face of aggressive attempts by Corbyn's supporters to de-select them, with the NEC on Saturday voting for changes that will make the process easier.

That could include calling for a second referendum.

A tacit deal to try to offer her some support before she heads to what is going to be a hard annual conference of her Conservative Party later this month was broken by some British diplomatic missteps.

Split, like much of the country, over how to leave - Britain's biggest policy shift in more than 40 years - Labour's leadership is wary of making commitments to the growing number of members who are fighting Brexit because it fears it could lose voters optimistic about a future outside the bloc.

But counter-protester Les Thomas, a self-described socialist, highlighted Corbyn's quandary, saying "the working class people I know, they've joined the Labour party but are firmly in the Brexit camp".

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