London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has called for a Second European Referendum to be included in Labour’s Manifesto for the 2022 General Election.
This statement arrives less than a month after a petition was set up by the Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Holder that called for a Second Referendum to be held at the end of the Brexit process.
Currently at just over 110,000 signatures, the debate date for this request is undecided, but it does suggest that the appetite for a review of the original decision still exists. What Sadiq Khan’s statement today does however, is add further weight behind any plausible campaign to obtain another referendum given his position as the Mayor of London — a city which will be hit hardest after Brexit.
In light of what might be classified as a London-centric perspective it is key to note that Sadiq Khan is not alone in his pro-referendum stance. Both Kezia Dugdale, former leader of Labour in Scotland and John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, have also not ruled out the possibility of a second vote on Labour’s 2022 manifesto.
This also raises further questions on Corbyn’s leadership and his ability to manage a party that is disunited on the subject of Brexit. This has its roots in the heart of the Brexit build-up in early 2016. During the Referendum Corbyn, much like the incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May, wasn’t obviously Remain or Leave. Though both ‘campaigned’ for Remain, that word campaigned is deserving of its inverted commas since they were both on the sidelines of the debate rather than adamantly sticking to one side or the other.
This can be demonstrated through Corbyn’s ‘7 out of 10’ quip during the campaign and May’s sudden Brexit conversion after the result, as well as her inherent lack of effort during the campaign itself. As such, if the call for a second referendum gains momentum amongst Labour MPs then Corbyn, despite his huge popularity amongst young people, may well find himself in the tumultuous position of having to fight not just the Conservatives but his own party as well.
The possibility of such a decision would play into the hands of the Conservative Party that, having lost much of its stronghold in Parliament against a resurgent Labour, has been resorting to power grabs in May’s use of Henry VIII powers and attacking Labour’s Sadiq Khan on his Uber decision.
Conservative councillor for Endon, Joe Porter, had this to say:
‘Holding a second EU referendum is completely unnecessary and irrelevant. It would reopen divisions that need to be left in the past. Brexit has the largest democratic mandate in British history.
We’re leaving the EU, people need to accept the will of the British people and we need to get on with coming together to forge a new constructive, close partnership with the EU and form new trade deals around the world. It’s important we listen to the many working people outside London who feel left behind and voted for Brexit. Maybe the Mayor of London should focus on his day job and reconsider his backwards and unprogressive decision to ban Uber in what is supposed to be an open and global city’.
Though Mr Porter may be right with Uber, it is important to remember that as Mayor of London, the economic powerhouse of Europe, supporters will argue that Sadiq Khan should speak out against a vote that has the possibility of eliminating London’s status as the leading financial centre for business and commerce.
That said, this does raise a key point that too many political commentators and leaders are focusing on the short-term benefits or losses of Brexit and not enough is being done to look at the long-term opportunities or consequences of the decision. It could be the greatest opportunity Britain has had in recent history or it could be a suicide note, only time will tell.