Leader: Corbyn should heed call to back People’s Vote

Corbyn leaves the International Slavery Museum on the eve of the Labour Conference in Liverpool. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
Corbyn leaves the International Slavery Museum on the eve of the Labour Conference in Liverpool. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
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Three years after his election as leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn remains as divisive a figure as ever.

Though he is, to many attending the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, a heroic figure representing the best hope of toppling from power Theresa May’s Tories, others continue to believe his election to replace Ed Miliband in 2015 was a catastrophic mistake.

Among those who remain unconvinced by Corbyn, we may include the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, Ian Murray. Writing in today’s Scotland on Sunday, he describes the summer as having been “incredibly tough” for Labour members. This is, we think, something of an understatement. The opposition leader’s failure to effectively tackle anti-Semitic behaviour among Labour members, plots to deselect MPs seen as disloyal, and the party’s unwillingness to take a stand against a damaging hard Brexit have combined to create a seemingly unbridgeable gap between so-called “moderates” and Corbyn’s many supporters.

Murray – whose intervention today will infuriate the leader’s supporters and may make him a target for deselection – points out that the British public still doubts that he is prime ministerial material.

He represents one of more than 100 Constituency Labour Parties across the UK now calling for a “People’s Vote” on the final Brexit deal.

If Corbyn – a career-long Eurosceptic who insists he voted Remain in 2016 – is to improve his party’s chances of winning a future election, he would do well to throw his support behind the campaign for such a vote.

The argument – whether from right wing Tory Brexiteers or Labour front-benchers – that a “People’s Vote” would be “undemocratic” is nonsense. Information that was not available in 2016 may have changed minds and there should be no problem in testing this. Brexit is a serious step and we should be certain that we understand and accept the implications when we take it.