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Brexit: Councillor’s call for a second vote is rejected by Labour

"I think the country want assurances that Labour will prioritise calling for a People’s Vote"

14 December, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Green Party councillor Caroline Russell 

ISLINGTON’S Labour councillors butchered a motion calling for a new EU referendum after it was put forward by the Town Hall’s sole opposition councillor, instead calling for a general election as a way to solve the nation’s Brexit stalemate.

Green Party councillor Caroline Russell’s call for a “People’s Vote” was voted down at a full council meeting on Thursday.

It was amended by Labour members who instead called for a general election, if prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal is rejected in Parliament.

The council’s vote is purely symbolic and would not force any changes to government but the Town Hall and its councillors have close ties with Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Corbyn has so far refused to back a second referendum.

His position is in contrast with Labour councillors in neighbouring Camden who last month agreed a motion calling for a new referendum, with remaining in Europe to be on the ballot paper and without a general election clause.

Ms May delayed her vote in Parliament on Tuesday after uncertainty as to whether she would have a majority of MPs backing her deal.

Speaking at full council, Town Hall leader Councillor Richard Watts said: “What we need is a general election, for so many reasons. Nothing is going to change while the Prime Minister is still in power.”

He added that a general election would “get rid of the internal politics of the Conservative party that is driving the national interest” on the Brexit deal.

But Cllr Russell defended her original motion which made no mention of a general election and told the chamber: “There are two reasons why I don’t think a general election will fix this political problem: we have a first-past-the-post voting system where few marginal constituencies decide the outcome of the general election. A general election will be fought on one small issue, not just on this very complex issue, whether or not we leave the EU and if we leave it, on what terms?”

She added: “I think the country want assurances that Labour will prioritise calling for a People’s Vote and not dither on the other options if you don’t get your general election situation.”

Labour councillors’ amendments, decided at a Labour group meeting ahead of full council, did agree to “support all options remaining on the table that best protect Islington residents, including making representations for a public vote to take place, with a specific option to remain in the EU” if a general election was not called.

Cllr Russell was the only councillor not to vote for the amended motion while all the Labour councillors in the chamber backed the changes.

The Labour group also changed the motion so that it “congratulates” the council for their work supporting EU residents in the borough.

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