Labour's National Executive on Brexit and immigration

Submitted by martin on 1 February, 2019 - 9:27 Author: Pete Willsman, Alice Perry

These are the two reports so far published of the discussion on Brexit at the Labour Party's National Executive Committee on 29 January 2019.

They show that redoubled campaigning is needed for the views of Labour's rank and file to find substantial expression in the top committees. Neither report indicates any discussion at the National Executive on Labour's attitude to the Tory Immigration Bill second reading on 28 January (the front bench first called for abstention, and then, late, after pressure, voted against).

Pete Willsman

The discussion on Brexit at the NEC was serious, well-informed and comradely. There was general agreement that Jeremy was playing a very difficult hand the best way possible in the circumstances.

Jeremy took the NEC through the rapidly evolving Brexit situation. He highlighted the fact that even if a deal is agreed it will be impossible to get all the necessary primary legislation through Parliament within the short time limit.

For this reason, the front bench is prepared to accept an extension of the negotiation period in order to ensure that "no-deal" is off the table. And to press Theresa May to accept as much of Labour's progressive way forward as possible. In such circumstances, Jeremy was prepared to have detailed discussions with the Prime Minister....

The issue of moving forward more quickly in relation to a second referendum was raised. In response, I emphasised, that in my view, Jeremy's tactics and strategy are the best in the circumstances. I added that I had been studying the polls and other information and it is clear that if Labour hitched its whole way forward to the second referendum "bandwagon" this could be electorally damaging.

Alice Perry

Richard Corbett gave the European Parliamentary Labour Party report, with a detailed update on Brexit and the mood in the European parliament. The NEC considered practical issues that might arise if the deadline for leaving the EU is extended, including possible European parliamentary elections and candidate selections.

Jeremy Corbyn gave a further update in his leader’s report. There was a discussion about Brexit and various scenarios that could arise (the most preferable being a general election). The MPs on the NEC had to leave the meeting early to take part in important Brexit votes. Jeremy pointed out how the Labour-backed amendments reflected the position agreed by conference.

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