Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure from left-wing party leaders across the continent to reverse Labour’s Brexit policy and block Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Socialist parties across Europe, including Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), are calling on the leader of the British Labour Party to form a parliamentary opposition to Brexit.
Corbyn, shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer, and most Labour MPs have vowed to scrutinise the government’s handling of Brexit but say they will vote in favour of Theresa May triggering Article 50 when a bill reaches parliament.
However, Axel Schäfer, who is handling the issue of Brexit for the SDP, says Corbyn is making a “big mistake” by abandoning pro-Remain Brits and should take a “different” stance to May’s Tory government.
Speaking to the Times newspaper, SPD Deputy Leader Schäfer said: “It is a big mistake of Corbyn to say the majority of the people were in favour, therefore the Labour Party supports Brexit.
“Of course they have to vote against Brexit. If the majority of people are in favour of this, Labour should say, ‘OK, we are sorry but we cannot follow always the majority’. Otherwise, this is the end of different parties.”
The Times reports that SPD representatives are holding meetings with Labour MPs in an attempt to persuade them to oppose Brexit, ahead of a meeting of European left-wing parties organised by Corbyn in February.
The German party, which is part as part coalition government headed by Angela Merkel, is hoping pressure from itself and fellow centre-left and socialist parties can make Labour rethink its approach to the referendum result.
Numerous MPs, including Labour parliamentarians, have said they are prepared to block May from triggering Article 50. Others include all 8 Liberal Democrat MPs and potentially over 50 members of the SNP.
Adopting this stance could lead Labour to electoral suicide, though. The majority of Labour-held constituencies voted Leave in the June referendum and a parliamentary effort to fight the public will would likely have serious ramifications at the ballot box at the next general election, at a time when the party is already polling awfully.
That is what academic Matthew Goodwin pointed out when Business Insider spoke to him in September.
“You need to consider that 70% of Labour constituencies voted for Brexit, whereas Labour, apparently, was officially campaigning for Remain,” he said.
“You can see, therefore, how in post-referendum Britain, it is going to be incredibly difficult for the Labour Party to do anything other than accept the result of the referendum.”