Brexit has given the Labour party something of a collective headache ever since the referendum. Now, the party is trying a new approach: pretending it doesn’t exist. The party’s annual conference has just decided which issues will be voted on by those gathering in Brighton – and the issue of leaving the EU failed to make the cut. Brexit got 72,000 votes in a ballot of Constituency Labour Party delegates. But because other issues, including the NHS (187,000), social care (145,000), housing (187,000) and railways (120,000), got more, Brexit won’t now be the subject of a vote.
This is a win for Momentum, who appear to have used their clout in terms of numbers among CLP delegates to good effect, ensuring Brexit won’t be the subject of a vote. Inevitably, Jeremy Corbyn will also be pleased. On the Andrew Marr show this morning, he made it clear just how far the party still needs to travel before it can formulate a collective policy on Brexit. He said ‘there’s going to be a lot of movement’ of workers when asked on the issue of free movement; and he went on to say that ‘there has to be an agreement on it and how it is achieved’. It seems unlikely now that this agreement will happen this week.
But others are less happy. Here's how Labour's Heidi Alexander reacted:
— Heidi Alexander (@heidi_mp) September 24, 2017
So, while Brexit will still be debated on the conference floor tomorrow, the lack of a vote on this – arguably the – crucial issue facing Britain, won’t help Labour in its continuing quest to formulate a Brexit blueprint.