Leonard: Remain and reform the UK and the EU

Richard Leonard told an anti-Brexit meeting on Monday evening that Scottish Labour would campaign to remain in and reform both the UK and the European Union. 

The Scottish Labour leader sent a message of solidarity to a "Love Socialism, Hate Brexit" event held in the Commons on Monday evening by MPs including Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott also addressed the meeting, saying Labour must campaign to remain in a second EU referendum.

In his message, Leonard said the Conservative's failure to resolve Brexit threatened the country with the prospect of leaving without a deal.

He added that this failure to lead had been exploited by the SNP, who have used the uncertainty to call for a second independence referendum.

"Creating a new Scottish state will not resolve the great challenges we face: economic, social, environmental. It holds us back. It inhibits our ability to bring about the real and radical change our country needs," he said, adding:

"This is why Scottish Labour is clear that we need to remain in and reform the UK and we need to remain in and reform the European Union too."

Leonard told the meeting that Scottish Labour would again campaign to remain should any future EU referendum be held. 

Addressing the Stronger In campaign's failure to convince voters in 2016, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said a future campaign must be "completely different" and be based on values and solidarity.

In a statement to the meeting, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he was "tremendously pleased" that Labour was committed to second referendum.

He also said any future campaign to remain should learn lessons from 2016, where the campaign failed to convince voters that "another Europe" was possible.

"We didn't promote sufficiently the transformative policy programme we are constructing for many of the areas that in frustration and anger voted for Brexit.

"So we must campaign for Remain but also the change that many of our communities desperately need after decades of neoliberal dominance and years of harsh austerity."

Scottish Labour MP Paul Sweeney also attended the meeting, speaking to The Red Robin he said: "It was clear from the volume of shadow cabinet members who spoke last night that there is a full square commitment now within the Labour Party to ensure any Brexit deal is put to a referendum.

"That is critical and is stands in consistent position with our view on the constitution. We believe in unity and cooperation, whether it is at a Scottish, British or European level and beyond."


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