Joan Twelves, former leader of Lambeth council and a long-time friend of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, sent this letter to the leader on 12 February.
I was appalled to wake up to hear the Tory spin that you might accept the paltry concessions offered by the PM to push Brexit through Parliament.
Concessions on things which should be happening anyway. And even if the Tories are prepared to row back on a few workplace rights they have spent the last decades demolishing, and offer some more Sports Direct depots to the former coalfield communities, what about our environmental rights, what about our consumer rights, what about our rights as European citizens to travel, study, work, live, and love across our neighbouring continent, what about the rights of EU citizens in this country, what about all of our rights to free movement across the world – or is that just for the rich? Where are your demands on these rights? Where are the Tories’ concessions on these?
The fact that I could believe this possible is an indictment of the position you have taken on Brexit ever since the referendum – indeed during it when I was told by your staff that you felt you had done enough meetings on Europe after just doing a couple, and therefore could not do one in south London with me.
You are making it impossible for comrades like myself to defend your Leadership. Brexit is an anti-internationalist, anti-solidarity, anti-peace, anti-immigrant right-wing project – there is no fantasy Lexit which will overturn austerity; indeed, the reverse as the country is impoverished and the NHS crumbles for lack of staff, medicines and funding.
Good comrades are leaving the Party in Vauxhall because you have not only failed to provide clear and decisive leadership against Brexit but also because you have failed to take any action against our MP, who has been consistently allowed to break the whip and collude with the most rabidly right-wing of Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage and Arron Banks. Motions of no confidence in Kate Hoey have won unanimous support across the Party here, but nothing ever happens; but it is more than clear that nobody here will campaign for her if she is allowed to restand as our PPC. The trade union sponsorship the CLP has received for her for the last 30 years has recently been stopped. It is time the Party did the same.
Criticism of the institutions of the EU is fine. But you have to make them in the light of the objective circumstances of the time; and the objective circumstances now are that the right are advancing across the world and we – you – need to be leading the fightback against them. Rather than bunkering into a ‘socialism in one country’ world view, the fight needs to be taken into Europe, where we need to be working with socialists, not against them.
I hate referendums. But I believe that another is unavoidable if the anti-Europe vote in the first one is to be overturned. You need to not just support another vote, but make it very, very clear that you will campaign and fight to challenge the original decision and support Remain and Reform loudly and proudly.
I believe the advice you are receiving is wrong. You need to get out of the bunker and the Westminster bubble and talk to comrades who take a pro-European view. More than happy to get on the bus and come and chat any time.
• Republished from here.
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