Conference is shaping up to be a false contest between Europe and the environment. It doesn’t have to be this way
Atmospherically speaking, Brexit will certainly dominate Labour’s conference, as it has for the Liberal Democrats, and will for the Tories. All the conversations outside the hall, in fringe meetings, on beaches, in pubs, either side of the karaoke (activists love microphones, no one knows why) will revolve around it. The “Love Corbyn, Hate Brexit” tote bags will have been updated. “Remain, Reform, Revolt” on one side, and – optimistically – “Labour can stop Brexit” on the other; there will be no shortage of views as to how.
Labour is, with or without Jo Swinson’s missteps, plainly the party of remain: in its membership and its voters; in its stated policy of backing a second referendum; in most of its MPs and the bulk of its shadow cabinet; in its visceral reaction to Boris Johnson and his crash-and-burn fantasies. Yet the leadership is still clinging to the dated electoral calculation that it can only win if they pick up votes from both leavers and remainers, and the idea that it is possible, if you’re clever enough, to simultaneously support both outcomes.
If this conference is successfully branded as a fight for climate justice, that won’t make Brexit go away