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Anti-Brexit cause still burns in UK's Labour

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-29 09:26
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In this file photo taken on June 28, 2016, a man waves both a Union flag and a European flag together on College Green outside The Houses of Parliament at an anti-Brexit protest in central London on June 28, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Several senior Labour Party figures have started pushing for the United Kingdom to rejoin the European Union.

The party, which last governed between 1997 and 2010, opposed the UK exiting the bloc during the 2016 referendum campaign, but also allowed dissenting lawmakers to openly campaign in favor of Brexit.

After the referendum was lost, Labour then said that the will of the people had to be respected and that the nation should indeed leave the EU.

The party has since said it would try to make the best of life outside the bloc if it is returned to government.

But Alex Sobel, the Labour Party's shadow minister for tourism and heritage, said at an anti-Brexit event during the party's annual conference that the time is right for it to start campaigning to rejoin the bloc.

"The battle isn't over. The battle is just beginning," he said at the rally organized by the Labour Movement for Europe and Labour for a European Future. "This is a battle for our children's futures and the future of our continent."

Sobel said people who backed the UK leaving the bloc in 2016, including many Labour Party members, will have had time to realize they made a mistake and want to reopen the debate.

"Then, we can start talking about what a good deal looks like and what the best deal looks like," he said. "I think we all know what the best deal is."

The Daily Mail newspaper quoted him as saying that people are concerned about food "missing from the shelves of the shops" and "petrol stations ... having fuel shortages".

"Chefs are missing from the restaurants," he added.

Sobel said warnings issued by anti-Brexit lawmakers during the 2016 referendum were called "scaremongering", but have since been proved right.

"We were told that none of it would happen and it is all happening-one by one by one," he was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

He also said this is due to the terrible Brexit deal that the government rushed through without any need to.

Long-term project

But Sobel said the Labour Party will not be able to maneuver the UK back into the EU in the next "two or three years". He noted that "this is a long-term project".

The BBC also reported that Labour Party grandee and former minister Hilary Benn also called on the party to push for "a new relationship with the EU" during the party conference.

Benn said people can see what is happening in front of their eyes.

"Let's just say it: Brexit is a mess," he said.

The Guardian reported that shadow minister Alison McGovern had also joined the party's call in starting talks about how it can reverse Brexit.

Andrew Adonis, who served as a Labour Party minister in 2009 and 2010, added that he would like to see the party push for the UK to rejoin both the single market and the customs union.

"The only thing that is stopping us ... is an absence of imagination and real passion in campaigning," he was quoted by the BBC as saying.

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