Labour left confident ahead of Labour conference

As Labour's annual conference opensin Brighton, more than 30 MPs, together with MEPs, Labour peers, trade union leaders and mayors, publish an open letter in the Observer, demanding that Labour shows "the courage of its convictions" and toughens its pro-EU message.

John McDonnell has rejected claims that Labour will not be debating Brexit at party conference and said members want to "build a consensus" on the topic.

But their luck was out after an email from Momentum advising members to push for votes on housing, social care, the NHS and rail instead.

They need to get to know how this new political creature works because they may have to engage with it.

This gives them more strength against the other two main groups on the NEC-MPs and trade union delegates-which can be a block against the left.

After months of sticking to a position little different from the Conservative Party's pursuit of a clean break with the EU, Labour changed tack last month by suggesting that, if in power, it would press for remaining in the EU's single market for a transition period to smooth Britain's departure in March 2019.

Meanwhile, there would be "plenty" of debate on the party's stance on European Union withdrawal, with the conference discussing a report being presented by Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer.

Partly because of the Brexit dilemma, Corbyn ran an election campaign on domestic issues, a vote-winning tactic he looks set to continue. Party sources say numerous party's prominent centrist MPs were quietly satisfied with keeping the topic off the agenda, fearing an embarrassing story of party splits at a time when Labour's shadow cabinet is keen to hold a different line.

The meeting exposed cracks within the ranks of Labour's Jewish membership with one speaker calling for the Jewish Labour Movement, which has traditionally supported Israel, to be expelled from the party. Left-wing activists argue that they are unlikely to do so again after Corbyn unexpectedly won the leadership.

"Brexit and immigration are hard issues and it's understandable that people are nervous about a public debate". Either way, we can be sure that the debates will be lively.

"For the sake of jobs, public services, peace in Ireland and the rights of everyone who calls the United Kingdom home, we must offer a clear alternative to the Tories' destructive Brexit".

Jean Roberts from Brent Central also backed the decision not to have meaningful debate on Brexit, telling the conference hall: "We are not all agreed which is why I'm pleased of the fact we're not going to have a vote". The delegate below was repeatedly cheered for saying that Brexit must be stopped.

Earlier, Andrew Gywnne, Labour's election chief, warned Brexit divisions could tear the party apart, as he urged activists and MPs to settle their disagreements in a "comradely fashion".

He told BBC Breakfast the party was not seeking to stifle views on Brexit during the conference.

  • Leroy Wright