Radical Hard-Left Momentum Activists Enlisted To Drum Up Support For EU Remain Vote

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been challenged to “explain why you defend the world’s oldest hatred”, in a debate on anti-Semitism in parliament.
Rob Stothard/Getty

Following an online consultation of supporters, the radical hard-left Momentum group that propelled Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour Party leadership has decided to campaign for Remain in the European Union (EU) referendum.

Momentum, the self-styled ‘grassroots network’ which emerged from the ‘Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader’ campaign, yesterday announced that for the next month it will be “throwing its weight behind the remain campaign for a better Europe, based on solidarity and cooperation.” The group is said to boast some 120 local branches and claims over 100,000 supporters.

The move comes after an online survey of Momentum members and supporters. The organisation announced that of those who took the survey 66.5 per cent voted for Momentum to campaign nationally for what it calls a “left ‘in'” at the referendum. This was followed by a meeting of Momentum’s National Committee on Saturday, where regional delegates from across the UK, Trade Unions and Labour organisations also voted for a national Remain campaign.

Earlier in the year the group had chosen not to take a public stance in the EU referendum, despite the Labour leadership opting to support Remain. LabourList described that “as the first time that Momentum had not automatically supported Jeremy Corbyn’s position”, saying it “led to speculation he was privately less taken with Britain’s EU membership.”

The motion adopted did criticise the EU’s status quo, but still noted that “Britain leaving the EU would be a victory for the nationalist right and their campaign against migrants.”

The group’s hardline stance means it is has not opted to join the official ‘Stronger In’ organisation to campaign alongside Alistair Darling and Alan Johnson, but will instead support the explicitly left wing ‘Another Europe is Possible’ campaign backed by the likes of Maryam Namazie, Peter Tatchell, Sunny Hundal and Richard Murphy.

That group of activists and campaigners supports what it calls “the progressive case for staying in the EU” and aims “to build a Europe of democracy, human rights, and social justice”. The Founding Statement of the campaign explains:

Another Europe is Possible is a campaign for a radical “in” vote. Our campaign will put the case for staying in the EU independently of Cameron and big business, opposing any part of a “renegotiation” that attacks workers’, migrants’ or human rights. We will combine campaigning for an in vote with arguing for an alternative economic model, maintaining European citizens’ rights to live and work across the EU, and for far-reaching democratic reforms of European institutions.

Michael Chessum, a member of Momentum’s steering committee and a national ‘Another Europe is Possible’ organiser said:

“There is now a growing coalition of coming together to campaign for a Remain vote on an unapologetically progressive and critical basis – for freedom of movement, internationalism and solidarity across borders.

“Momentum’s support will bring a real boost to the campaign at a grassroots level, bringing in the Labour voters and younger voters who have been put off by the rightwing, establishment-dominated official campaigns, and who may well determine the outcome of this referendum.”

The hard-left campaign kicks off in earnest this weekend with what is billed as the biggest Remain rally to date. The event will included speakers such as author and commentator Owen Jones, Green Party politician Caroline Lucas, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

There will also be workshops, skills training, and participatory breakouts on such topics as “defending free movement, ending fortress Europe”, “organising across borders for workers’ rights” and “preserving the future: environmental sustainability”.

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