Current debates around Brexit are awash with ideology, Shabbir Lakha helps us beat a path toward strategy
Following the Supreme Court decision that the government is constitutionally required to get Parliamentary authorisation to invoke Article 50, MPs have begun the debate on the White Paper that the government has been forced to produce. The Labour Party has put forward several amendments to the Bill which they hope to pass, but support the triggering of Article 50.
However, despite Jeremy Corbyn imposing a three line whip on MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50, a small number of MPs are set to defy the whip and have tabled a motion to have the bill thrown out. It should be no surprise that the MPs leading this ‘rebellion’ – which include Heidi Alexander, Ann Coffey and Owen Smith (who has just resurfaced following his overwhelming defeat in last year’s leadership challenge) are the same MPs that led the attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn last year.
Similarly, a small but vocal number of people have supported an open letter (dubbed a “grassroots revolt against Jeremy Corbyn” by the Guardian) which has been led by the same people that led the charge against Corbyn during the coup. One of the organisers is Jonathan Proctor who campaigned for Owen Smith last year, and only recently rejoined Labour after quitting in October following Jeremy Corbyn’s victory.
The term post-truth is being used by people who are against Brexit as reasoning for discarding the referendum result. There is no doubt that there was plenty of misinformation during the referendum debate, but this was not unique to the Leave campaign. If Britain had voted to remain in the EU last year, would the validity of the referendum be in question because Cameron said it would be WW3 if we left? When both the Tories and Labour right pushed for immigration controls as they are now, would we be calling for a second referendum because people were duped into believing remaining was a vote against xenophobia?
Having complete and accurate information is something we should all strive to achieve, but predicating the validity of democracy on it
a) undermines our own agency and democratic rights,
b) sets a standard that no election or referendum in any Western democracy has ever met - including very much the Remain side of the EU referendum.
There is also arrogance among the people who are arguing to block Article 50. Everybody else was fooled, made the wrong choice and don’t understand the repercussions of Brexit and therefore we the enlightened have a duty to save you from yourselves and your horrible mistake. This idea flies in the face of any standard of democracy.
The far right
During the referendum debate, the far right and nationalists framed themselves as representing the voices of those who have been disenfranchised by the status quo. Blocking Article 50 only serves to alienate disillusioned communities who have been marginalised by the establishment and gives credence to the false narrative of the far right.
There are two options now: a bargain basement, red white and blue, hard, whatever you want to call it Brexit that allows the establishment to overturn this crisis at our expense, or a People's Brexit that defends workers rights, freedom of movement and our NHS.
The left should move past the debates of last year, reject the campaigns that undermine democracy and be united around the key tenets of our shared principles in fighting for a People’s Brexit.
Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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