https://aiwa.press/2019/02/28/britains-labour-party-leader-backs-brexit-referendum/

Tony Blair ‘Staying In The Labour Party’ Despite ‘Courageous’ TIG Breakaway

Tony Blair: Tony Blair says he is staying in the Labour Party despite having a "great deal of sympathy" with breakaway MPs.
Tony Blair says he is staying in the Labour Party despite having a “great deal of sympathy” with breakaway MPs.

Tony Blair: “I am staying in the Labour Party”; says he is ‘deeply concerned’ about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – Rachel Wearmouth; Huffpost

BBC Politics@BBCPolitics

The former Labour leader Tony Blair tells #Marr he is “deeply concerned” after nine MPs left the party http://bbc.in/2VfVUVI 17310:36 AM – Mar 3, 2019302 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Tony Blair has said the Independent Group (TIG) of breakaway MPs are “courageous” but he will stay in Labour as he is “deeply attached” to the party. 

Blair, a long-standing critic Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, denied he was involved with TIG MPs’ plan to split the party but said he had “sympathy” with them. 

Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he added: “I’m in touch with them and I have spoken to some of them.

“I’ve got a great deal of sympathy with what they’re doing and what they’re saying.”

Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and others cited Corbyn’s delay in taking a more pro-EU stance and the party’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism as among the reasons for splitting away. 

It comes amid speculation more Labour MPs could be tempted to leave Labour to sit with the new group, for which Streatham MP Chuka Umunna is spokesman and three pro-EU Tory MPs joined last week. 

Blair said he hopes to “bring the Labour Party back” to the centre ground. 

He added: “I’m staying in the Labour Party. I’ve been in the Labour Party for over 40 years, I led it for 13 years, I was longest-serving Labour prime minister, I’m deeply attached to the Labour Party.

“But do I sympathise with what they have done? Yes, I do. I think they’re courageous in having done it.”

Blair said he is “deeply concerned” about Labour’s direction and policy, adding: “If you want to get back to winning ways, this is not the position to be in.”

He said he believed Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has “shown really great leadership” in recent weeks. 

It comes amid reports Watson has set up a social democratic group within the party that will come up with policy ideas. 

The deputy has also clashed with the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby over how anti-Semitism complaints are handled. 

Blair added: “As a result of what he’s doing, he’s encouraging people who do share a perspective of the Labour Party as a governing, modern, progressive party, he’s actually encouraging them in a sense to stay because he’s providing a space within which people can debate and argue.”

The former PM also welcomed Labour’s switch to backing a second referendum on Brexit. 

Blair added: “I think it’s absolutely inevitable that if you put the choice before the country – hard Brexit Tory party, hard-left Labour Party – it doesn’t matter what I say, what I want to happen, what anyone else says, you leave that amount of fertile territory open, someone is going to cultivate it.”

RELATED…

Advertisements
Antisemitism

UK newly formed ‘Independent Group’ wins donor backing from property tycoon who abandoned Labour

Sir David Garrard told The Observer: "I've been asked whether I will financially support the new group. I have already done so" (Image: PA)
Sir David Garrard told The Observer: “I’ve been asked whether I will financially support the new group. I have already done so” (Image: PA)

Sir David Garrard donated £1.5m to Labour but abandoned the party over its handling of the anti-Semitism row

AIWA! NO!| The new Independent Group of MPs have won donor backing from a property tycoon who abandoned Labour over claims

Sir David Garrard told The Observer: “I’ve been asked whether I will financially support the new group. I have already done so.”

The property tycoon, who donated around £1.5 million to Labour over a period of 15 years, left the party in protest at the leadership’s handling of the anti-Semitism row.

READ RELATED: It is devastating that Jewish people feel Labour will not fight antisemitism; Sadiq Khan

But now he has thrown his weight behind the 8 Labour and 3 Tory MPs who quit their parties this week to form the so-called ‘TIG’.

He told The Observer “intimidation and bullying” has become “endemic” in the Labour Party “for all to see” – and he now feels “relief” at abandoning Labour.

I’m a Londoner, born and bred. It’s in my blood. I can’t imagine ever wanting to live anywhere else. And being a member of the Labour party is much the same. I was 15 when I first joined and it’s where I met many of my closest friends. Being Labour is a big part of who I am.

Luciana Berger speaking at the launch of the Independent Group on 18 February, where she resigned over antisemitism, Mirror

He added: “I have watched, with ever-growing concern, the deterioration, especially over the past year, of the extent and nature of the naked antisemitism which has increased throughout the Labour party and its supporters, since Jeremy Corbyn and his cabal of revolutionaries took control of the Labour party which I had so admired and supported with commitment and enthusiasm.”

Pimlico Plumbers founder Charlie Mullins, who previously donated to the Tories and then the Lib Dems, indicated to The Times on Saturday that he could also give TIG financial backing.

READ RELATED: Nine more MPs could quit Labour and join rebels – making it third largest party

Pimlico Plumbers chief executive Charlie Mullins indicated he could donate to TIG (Image: PA)
Pimlico Plumbers chief executive Charlie Mullins indicated he could donate to TIG (Image: PA)

“I believe that any money I put in to the Independent Group will be money well spent because I think Theresa May is destroying the economy,” he said.

“This is about our children and grandchildren and the future of this country.”

Meanwhile Sadiq Khan warned there has been “a collapse in trust” between Labour and the Jewish community and said the last week had been “the most distressing and depressing of my 33 years in the party”.

Many Jewish people feel Labour is “unwilling” to tackle anti-Semitism, he wrote, and “Sadly, it’s now possible that the Jewish Labour Movement will never reach its 100-year anniversary.’

And the Mail on Sunday reports that Dame Louise Ellman could be the next MP to quit the Labour Party.

A friend of the Jewish MP told the newspaper: “Louise will not be in the party for much longer.”

The Mail on Sunday reports that Dame Louise Ellman could be the next MP to quit the Labour Party (Image: Dan Kitwood)
The Mail on Sunday reports that Dame Louise Ellman could be the next MP to quit the Labour Party (Image: Dan Kitwood)

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson today declared there is a “crisis for the soul of the Labour Party”, branded the situation “perilous” and demanded Jeremy Corbyn take personal control of the anti-Semitism row.

He said he had sent a file of 50 Labour anti-Semitism cases to the Labour leader that he felt had been inadequately dealt with.

But Labour’s Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner insisted the number of cases was a “tiny” proportion of the Labour membership and said just 61 alleged anti-Semites had been expelled or left in anticipation they’d been booted out.

Earlier this week the new Independent Group of MPs claimed they had already had thousands of donations – and claimed they will declare them “in due course”.

Because the group is not a registered political party, it does not have to declare donations unless they come to its individual MPs.

Critics claim donors could conceal their identities by donating to a company called Gemini A Ltd – a vehicle run by MP Gavin Shuker and based above a Wetherspoons in Altrincham called The Unicorn.

Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna hits out at Jeremy Corbyn as 'just as bad as Theresa May'

UK: Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna hits out at Jeremy Corbyn as ‘just as bad as Theresa May’

The former Labour MP left the party on Monday
The former Labour MP left the party on Monday//Getty Images

“I don’t know whether he is personally antisemitic. His actions would seem to suggest he’s got questions to answer on that front” – @ChukaUmunna on Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of accusations of antisemitism in the Labour party –
MEGAN WHITE, Evening Standard

AIWA! NO!|Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna has branded the Labour Party “institutionally anti-Semitic” as he hit out at Jeremy Corbynfor the Labour Party’s lack of action over the matter.

He said the Labour leader was “just as bad as Theresa May” but now feared he could win a general election.

Appearing on Ridge on Sunday, the Mr Umunna also said he disagrees with fellow group member Anna Soubry about austerity.

He said: “First of all, it starts from the top. You have a leader who backed up and promoted an anti-Semitic mural.

“You have a leader who has talked about Jewish people not having an English sense of irony.

“You have a leader who has attended a wreath laying ceremony for terrorists.

“On top of that, there have been people who have been guilty of egregious anti-Semitism and the sanction is just being reminded of the guidelines.

“That is not a party taking it seriously. I don’t know whether he is personally anti-Semitic. His actions would seem to suggest he’s got questions to answer on that front.

“I’ve been very clear, the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic, and you either put your head in the sand and you ignore it or you actually do something about it.

“The failure to do something about it made my position untenable. My family has been victims of racism.

“One of the reasons I joined the Labour Party was because it was this anti-racist ideal, but if that isn’t matched by its actions then I can’t have anything to do with an outfit that goes along with that.”

Mr Umunna left the Labour Party on Monday along with Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker and Mike Gapes, to sit as part of a new faction.

Labour MP Joan Ryan joined on Tuesday, while Tories Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen joined the group on Wednesday.

During the interview, he also said he believes the traditional party system is “broken,” and that he “doesn’t want either a Labour or Tory government.”

But shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner hit back at Mr Umunna, claiming the reason he left the Labour Party was because he “knew he could never be the leader.”

He added: “This is someone who had no great policy difference, it was all about personality.”

Hani Mustafa can still remember the crippling nerves like it was yesterday. The warm spotlights on him in the studio, the make-up artist powdering his face – the television environment was completely alien to him, miles away from his life as a schoolboy in Peterborough. But Hani’s passion for why Britain should leave the European Union had got him noticed. And now, this GCSE student was about to make his first ever television appearance in a debate live on BBC News. He was just 15 years old.

Labour and Conservative MPs plan pro-Remain party

Chuka Umunna among six Labour MPs contemplating a pro-Remain political party
Chuka Umunna among six Labour MPs contemplating a pro-Remain political party

REMAIN supporters are plotting to create a new political party to take the UK back into the EU after Brexit in a move which could split both the Labour and Conservative Parties, according to shocking new reports – NEOnline | IR

AIWA! NEWS INTERNATIONAL|At least six Labour MPs have made clear they would break away from the main opposition party in the UK if Jeremy Corbyn refuses to back an amendment calling for a second Brexit referendum, while a smaller number have threatened to leave the Labour Party if it in any way obstructs the Brexit process.

The pro-Remain MPs include Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, and Chris Leslie, the Financial Times Report.

Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson are calling for an amendment on February 27 that will trade support for the Withdrawal Agreement with a call for a second referendum. If Corbyn does not support an amendment backing a second referendum, the supporters of the “People’s Vote” campaign say they will be leaving.

Labour’s party manifesto envisages a second referendum only if a call for a general election fails.

Beyond the question of the referendum, pro-Remain MPs have also been dismayed by the reluctance of Corbyn’s refusal to condemn the Marxist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and Moscow after the Kremlin attempted to assassinate former Russian spy Sergei Skripal a year ago.

The rebel MPs plan to leave immediately and trigger a byelection in their constituencies. Most come from strong Remain constituencies and expect to could win. They also expect pro-Remain Conservatives, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, to follow close behind in the polls.

In 2016, over 160 Labour MPs signed a letter calling on Corbyn to resign. In two successive leadership challenges, the firebrand leftist confirmed the confidence of his party members and went on to narrowly lose a general election in June 2017.

UK firms plan mass exodus if May allows no-deal Brexit

Business group warns that companies are getting ready to shift operations abroad

The British Chambers of Commerce has warned that its members are getting ready for Britain to crash out of the EU.
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The British Chambers of Commerce has warned that its members are getting ready for Britain to crash out of the EU.
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Nick Cohen, The Guardian|AIWA! NO!|Thousands of British companies have already triggered emergency plans to cope with a no-deal Brexit, with many gearing up to move operations abroad from London; if the UK crashes out of the EU, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

READ RELATED: Brexiters never had a real exit plan. No wonder they avoided the issue

Before a crucial week in parliament, in which MPs will try to wrest control from Theresa May’s government in order to delay Brexit and avoid a no-deal outcome, the BCC said it believed companies that had already gone ahead with their plans represented the “tip of the iceberg” and that many of its 75,000 members were already spending vital funds to prepare for a disorderly exit.

It said that in recent days alone, it had been told that 35 firms had activated plans to move operations out of the UK, or were stockpiling goods to combat the worst effects of Brexit.

Matt Griffith, director of policy at the BCC’s west of England branch, said that many more companies had acted to protect themselves since May’s Brexit deal was decisively rejected by MPs in the Commons earlier this month.

He said: “Since the defeat for the prime minister’s deal, we have seen a sharp increase in companies taking actions to try and protect themselves from the worst effects of a no-deal Brexit. No deal has gone from being one of several possible scenarios to a firm date in the diary.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper has revealed to the Observer that two major employers in her West Yorkshire constituency – luxury goods manufacturer Burberry and confectioner Haribo – had both written to her, warning of the damaging effects of no deal on their UK operations. Burberry employs 750 people in Castleford, and Haribo 700 across her constituency.

Jeremy Corbyn's top team have inched closer to supporting the bid from backbencher Yvette Cooper in recent days.Credit: PA
Jeremy Corbyn’s top team have inched closer to supporting the bid from backbencher Yvette Cooper in recent days.Credit: 
PA

Cooper is pushing for a Commons amendment – likely to be voted on in Tuesday’s debate – that would pave the way for Brexit to be delayed until the end of this year.

Last week some of the UK’s largest employers – including Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace manufacturer, which employs 14,000 people in the UK and supports another 110,000 through supply chains – warned of potentially disastrous effects of no deal on its UK activities.Advertisement

Tom Enders, the boss of Airbus, said: “Please don’t listen to the Brexiters’ madness, which asserts that because we have huge plants here we will not move and we will always be here. They are wrong.”

Ever since the vote to leave the EU in 2016, business groups including the BCC and the Confederation of British Industry have lobbied ministers, arguing that our exporters need access to the EU’s customs union, which allows goods to be imported tariff-free.

But the prime minister has insisted that the UK must leave both the customs union and EU single market if it the referendum result of 2016 is to be fully respected.

Business concerns are growing as Downing Street braces for a series of Commons ambushes over Brexit this week. As well as moves to delay the date of leaving beyond 29 March, MPs worried about a cliff-edge exit or a hard Brexit are also planning to force a series of “indicative votes” in parliament on a range of alternative ways forward. These include a Norway-style arrangement and a second referendum.

Some ministers, including Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, and Richard Harrington, the business minister, have signalled they could quit if May does not allow them to back plans to delay Brexit by granting all Tory MPs including ministers a free vote on the issue.

Meanwhile, some pro-Brexit cabinet ministers are pushing the PM to submit her own amendment pledging to renegotiate her Brexit deal, in a bid to win over Tory Brexiters and the Northern Irish DUP. Concerns are growing within the Tory party that the impasse may end in a snap election.

Today, writing in the Observer, cabinet minister David Lidington says he shares the concerns of those worried about no deal and says the government intends to put a revised deal back to the Commons for another “meaningful vote” next month. “Once we have a blueprint for a plan that can secure the support of the House, the prime minister will go back to the EU,” Lidington writes. “MPs will then have another meaningful vote as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned Theresa May in a private phone call that shifting her position in favour of a permanent customs union is the price she will need to pay for the EU revising the Irish backstop.

 Brexiters never had a real exit plan. No wonder they avoided the issue

Nick Cohen

Nick Cohen

 Read more

He said without a major shift in the PM’s position, the current terms of the withdrawal agreement were “non-negotiable”. Details of the call, contained in a leaked diplomatic note, emerged as Juncker’s deputy, Frans Timmermans, told the Observer that there had been no weakening of the resolve in Brussels in support of Ireland, and accused the Tory Brexiters of a “cavalier” approach to peace. “Let me be extremely clear: there is no way I could live in a situation where we throw Ireland under the bus,” Timmermans said.