Rebel Labour MPs who defied Jeremy Corbyn with call for new EU referendum snubbed by Durham Miners’ Gala


Labour MPs who defied Jeremy Corbyn to make a joint-call for a new EU referendum, will not be invited to a major event in the party’s calendar.

The MPs from the North West who made the call in an article for The Independent, were attacked by organisers of the Durham Miners’ Gala which attracts thousands of activists to the region every year.

They had argued that plans to withdraw the UK from the customs unions and single market would devastate family living standards in the North East, but the Gala’s organisers accused them of disloyalty to the Labour leader.

It comes amid a deepening row over Labour’s position on the single market, with Mr Corbyn refusing to back a plan to keep the UK in the association despite there likely being enough Tory rebels to make it law.

In their article for The Independent, Phil Wilson, Paul Williams, Bridget Phillipson, Anna Turley and Catherine McKinnell said new facts are now emerging about Brexit, that create a critical need for a new referendum.

But the intervention was seen by some on the party’s left as an attempt to undermine the party leader.

Speaking to the Morning Star, Durham Miners Association general secretary, Alan Cummings, said: “I absolutely cannot see the point in what these MPs are up to.

“My personal desire was to remain in the European Union, but the British people voted to leave. It’s a democracy. Phil Wilson distanced himself from Jeremy Corbyn during the general election. It was a disgrace.

“Some of these MPs were elected because of Jeremy and his manifesto. They should be grateful.”

In 2012 Ed Miliband became the first Labour leader to speak at the Gala, which can attract up to 100,000 people, in 23 years. Mr Corbyn has spoken at the event every year since 2015.

When asked about whether the five MPs would be welcomed to the Gala in July, Mr Cummings said: “We can’t stop Wilson or any MP attending, but they will not be invited.

“We are fully committed to backing Jeremy Corbyn. I don’t know why they want to try and behave like this now.”

Labour’s current position is that it “respects” the 2016 referendum, that Britain’s EU membership must end and that the country should leave the single market and customs union to negotiate new relationships to replace them.

But with most projections showing the UK worse off outside the EU’s existing structures, the five northeast MPs have decided to publicly contradict their leader’s position and call for a “People’s Vote” on the eventual deal.

The MPs in particular highlight how firms like Nissan in Sunderland, Hitachi in County Durham and in the chemicals industry on Teesside, providing thousands of jobs, see their future within the EU customs union and single market – which both Conservative and Labour leaderships are committed to quitting.

t comes after 83 Labour peers defied Mr Corbyn’s will on Tuesday and voted for an amendment to Ms May’s EU Withdrawal Bill that would effectively keep Britain in the EU’s single market.

The amendment will now come to the Commons, with The Independent having been told Conservative rebels have enough MPs to make it law as long as Labour also backs it.

But in comments that have infuriated some of his MPs, Mr Corbyn’s office has so far refused to back the amendment, claiming the single market is “problematic” for his plans to intervene in British industry if he wins power.