Held in the wonderful city of Liverpool, Labour Party’s Annual Conference had a very positive atmosphere, with record numbers of delegates attending. Apart from a short visit to Anfield to watch Liverpool thrash Southampton 3-0 on the Saturday before conference started, my schedule was packed.
It was a pleasure and an honour to have Grimethorpe Colliery Band officially open conference on the Sunday. (I arranged this, as Honorary President of the band).
On Brexit, over 150 local Labour parties had tabled contemporary resolutions (another record: the highest number ever on a single subject!) calling for Labour to oppose a damaging, job destroying, Tory, Brexit and advocating a public vote on any deal they manage to reach with the EU. And outside the conference venue, there was a very well attended People’s Vote march and rally, with speakers from all parts of the Labour movement.
My speech to conference on Monday as Labour’s leader in Europe was well received and I reflected on the hard work of Labour’s MEPs over the past four decades and considered the options ahead on Brexit, as well as sharing my favorite Brexit joke. If you missed it, you can see a video here or read the full text.
I was in the conference hall for the Brexit debate on Tuesday morning and was delighted to hear Keir Starmer confirm that the Labour MPs will vote against any Brexit deal that Theresa May presents to parliament which does not meet the six tests – all based on promises made by the government after the referendum vote – that the Labour leadership has set. I have laid out below what the consequences of this decision to hold the Tory government to account will be.
After speaking at many more fringe events, including the very well attended Yorkshire & Humber Labour reception, and a packed EPLP panel event which attracted national media coverage, my final hours in Liverpool were spent listening to Jeremy Corbyn lay out his vision for the next Labour government, which may be sooner rather than later if the Tories continue to make such a mess, not least on Brexit.