Party gathers in Dundee
Corbyn facing Labour in turmoil over Brexit
Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn: in bullish mood (photo by Terry Murden)
Jeremy Corbyn faces the party’s conference in Dundee today amid growing turmoil over its Brexit strategy.
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s plans for a motion backing the party’s continued membership of the single market was controversially blocked last night at a meeting of party officials.
A new campaign group, Scottish Labour for the Single Market, has been promoting the policy which is expected to dominate conference despite attempts by the leadership to focus on other issues.
Mr Corbyn backs a customs union but does not favour permanent membership of the EU single market.
He will criticise Theresa May for being in chaos and promoting a “reckless” Tory Brexit that risks seeing the UK lose access to European markets.
In his speech, Mr Corbyn will focus on the party’s prospects for regaining power and claim it could take 20 seats in Scotland.
He will tell delegates that some opponents had “written the Labour Party off” before they made six gains north of the border in last year’s general election.
He will say: “In Scotland we were told that Labour was dying. The truth is that we very much are alive and kicking. Labour in Scotland is back.
“Led by Richard Leonard – who has already proven to be an excellent leader of Scottish Labour – we are making Labour’s voice heard for a radically fairer society.
“We won six seats for Scottish Labour at the last general election, and we are on the cusp of winning in around 20 more.
“Of course I know that we didn’t quite win. But we are no longer just an opposition. We are a party preparing to go into government.”
SNP MSP George Adam said: “Labour remain hopelessly split over Brexit – and Richard Leonard’s support for the Tories’ extreme Brexit outside the single market will be the elephant in the room.
“That stance is alienating huge numbers of Labour supporters and members across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“It’s time Labour backed our efforts to stop a hard Tory Brexit in its tracks.”
The three-day gathering will also feature speeches from Scottish party leader Richard Leonard and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Blackford turns up heat
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford will tell a conference in Edinburgh that the UK government’s Brexit policies are a risk to the financial services sector in Scotland.
He will tell delegates attending the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association event that the UK must remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.
“Financial services play a large and key part in the Scottish economy, generating jobs and wealth,” he will say.
“Remaining in the European Economic Area would, for example, enable financial passporting to continue. Scotland’s financial services sector also benefits hugely from the skills and hard work of EU migrants. According to recent Scottish Government figures, 9000 EU nationals work in the finance and business services sector in Scotland.
“The Tories are behaving in a reckless and irresponsible way by taking us nearer to the cliff edge of a Hard Brexit – which would do so much damage not just to the finance and investment sectors – but across sectors of the Scottish and UK economies.”