Brexit conference: PES, UK Labour determined to protect shared values

Brexit conference: PES, UK Labour determined to protect shared values

The Labour-PES event, attended by hundreds of British MPs, MEPs, businesspeople and party activists, followed a high-level meeting between representatives of Europe’s progressive parties on Thursday evening.

The meeting was opened by Sergei Stanishev and hosted by Jeremy Corbyn. Also present were Jan Royall, Carin Jämtin and Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, Vice Presidents of PES, and senior representatives of almost all member parties of the PES as well as Gianni Pittella MEP, president of the S&D group in the European Parliament.

In his opening address to the packed conference hall, Mr Stanishev emphasised the close bonds that exist between Labour and its like-minded political parties across Europe. But he also urged Labour to stand up for its pro-European values, and speak for its own voters and supporters — two thirds of whom voted to Remain in the referendum last June.

And on behalf of fellow European leaders, Mr Stanishev made a sharp attack on the anti-European campaigners who continue to peddle lies about the EU and the UK’s prospects for a future relationship with it.

Mr Stanishev told delegates:

“Make no mistake about it. The British people were conned. They were sold ‘Brexit at no cost’: the softest of soft Brexits. But what they have ended up with is ‘Brexit at any cost’: the hardest of hard Brexits.

“Britain desperately needs Labour to be an honest voice, to hold the liars to account, to be the guardian of the 48%, and to be the advocate of the people who were lied to.”

In his response, Mr Corbyn emphasised the need to avoid a damaging Brexit, and his intention to work closely with other PES parties to build a more progressive Europe even after the UK leaves the EU.