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Live from Brighton - Brexit

Many of you will have woken up this morning to the news of a mass-organized movement among delegates to prevent a vote on Brexit. Not so.

In fact many of the delegates around me, myself included, simply chose to focus on what matters directly to people in their constituencies. No one told them how to vote, least of all Momentum. And also many pointed out today that there would be two hours of speeches on Brexit at Conference this morning including the key-note one from Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for exiting the EU. 

CLP delegates were given a list to choose four subjects to vote on with trade unions handed four too. I have no problems with admitting I opted for NHS, social care, housing and rail - which along with Grenfell Tower (I figured that also could be covered by debates on housing) were the most popular. Grenfell Tower edged out housing in the four.

Hemel Hempstead has a barely functioning hospital as we know only too well, social care is at breaking point, waiting lists for social housing in the area are rising with youngsters unable to afford to buy their own homes or ripped off by private landlords and as for rail... It was summed up by my journey to Brighton. 

No Thameslink through trains from Bedford to Brighton, a train breaking down at Kentish Tower before I had to get off and leg it across London for a connection from Victoria Station arriving just in time for the start of Conference. That train proved to be heaving because no one seemed to have factored in a Labour Party Conference with over 1,000  delegates at the same time as Newcastle United fans were travelling down to the Amex Stadium. So standing room only in some carriages. On a SUNDAY.

It is my belief too that these issues were a factor in many voting to leave the EU in the first place, a protest vote against rather than for something because as one speaker said on Sunday "Brexit was a rational cry of the dispossessed." Anger at what was happening on their doorsteps with the NHS, social care, housing, transport and years of austerity and feeling they had no voice. . 

More than 30 MPs together with MEPs, Labour peers, trade union leaders and mayors had published an open letter on Sunday calling for Jeremy Corbyn to commit to full and permanent membership of the EU single market and customs union - so the party could offer a clear alternative to the Tories over Brexit.

An alternative view is - what about just letting the Tories dig an even deeper hole for themselves, stand back, watching and waiting before making a move.

Starmer in his speech to the floor admitted: "Over the summer we reached an agreement on transition arrangements on the same basic terms that we could remain within a single market and the customs union. 

"The Government have spent the summer squabbling in  public. Teresa May fled to Florence only to adopt our position on transitional arrangements. Let's see if she survives the Tory conference next week. She has no answer to fundamental questions on Northern Ireland and still insists that no deal is a viable option.

"It most certainly is not. When we are in Government we will build a new professional relationship with the EU and a deal which retains the benefits of the customs union and the single markets. Options for achieving that should not be swept off the table. 

"We are also flexible. The outcome is what matters. No rash red-lines preventing a sensible deal but a pragmatic approach. Labour are now the grown-ups in the room."

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