Yesterday evening Labour members backed Jeremy Corbyn’s heavily criticised stance on Brexit.
The Labour leader has promised that a government he leads will negotiate a new Brexit deal and put it to a referendum, but has resisted calls to say how the party should campaign in that public vote.
Delegates at the conference in Brighton backed a statement setting out his position and broke out into a chorus of “oh, Jeremy Corbyn” after the result of the vote was announced – enthusiasm that was lost on most people elsewhere.
Duncan Weldon ironically noted that it was “very generous” of the Labour conference to give the Lib Dems about 1.5 million votes.
While Hugo Rifkind said in a sense Labour really does speak for the people of Britain, by not having a fucking clue.
You can’t pretend the result didn’t happen
But the notion that Labour should further polarise the electorate by backing one side over the other seems perverse to me.
I am a Remainer to my core, but I felt deeply uncomfortable with the Liberal Democrats pledge to cancel Brexit should their party come to power.
As Green MP Caroline Lucas noted at the time, “you can’t pretend the result didn’t happen.
“You can’t turn back the clock. Nor ignore the 17m who voted Leave,” she said. “This doesn’t strengthen our democracy. It further imperils it”.
Capturing the middle ground
On her doorstep in Brighton, Labour echoed the same mantra yesterday.
As I wrote here, it has become the only party that is treating both sides of the Brexit divide with respect.
Unlike the Conservatives it isn’t barrelling towards a hard exit that nobody voted for, nor is it campaigning to scrap it altogether without due consultation.
While those parties seek to polarise the electorate Labour has actually captured the middle ground, offering the most reasoned solution to our Brexit impasse as a result.