From the 1960s to the 1980s Labour was forever u-turning on whether the UK should join or leave Europe. But it seemed finally to have embraced Britain’s EU membership from the 1990s onwards.
That was certainly the impression that the party – if not its leader – created during the referendum campaign. And that’s precisely why so many Labour MPs don’t feel they can simply abandon their principles (or else their Remain-voting constituencies) and vote to trigger Article 50.
Presumably they’re hoping, once the legislation finally passes all its stages, that they can forget about what just happened by uniting with their colleagues to fight against a “hard Brexit”. But that might not be so easy. Labour has effectively given up its right to call itself pro-European and may soon find itself forced into becoming an anti-immigration party too.
That may or may not be a smart move electorally. But it means that Labour is no longer the same party that many of its members – both at Westminster and beyond – thought they’d joined.
Originally published at http://www.cityam.com/258402/labour-party-splits-over-leaving-european-union-intensify