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If UK Labour drags its heels we must lead the way on Final Say; Here, Cardiff South & Penarth MP Stephen Doughty reflects on a bleak Euro elections night for Welsh Labour and argues why Mark Drakeford's backing for a second referendum is the correct way forward... HS MDo.

THERE is no point in trying to hide the fact that the European Parliamentary elections were something close to disastrous for Welsh Labour.

While I am delighted with the election of the pro-Final Say Jackie Jones as MEP - it is a tragedy her other three Welsh Labour colleagues - all avowed pro-Europeans - were not elected.

While the story of the night was the fact Wales is now clearly pro-Remain and voted in a clear majority for anti-Brexit parties - it was to my great disappointment that it was not Welsh Labour leading this charge with the vigour that it could have.

Instead we fell behind the huge gains made at our expense by Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the Lib Dems.

The Tories were of course the biggest losers, with their vote evaporating away to the Brexit Party - simply Farage's latest rebranded vanity project.

Given the scale of the Welsh Labour reverse it was obvious something needed to change, and quickly.

That is why I welcome wholeheartedly the new, clear and unequivocal statement from our Welsh leader and First Minister Mark Drakeford backing a second referendum and remain.

Alongside climate change, poverty and inequality Brexit is the key issue of our times and Labour can no longer afford to have a mealymouthed and equivocal position on the latter when we are so clear on the former and delivering in Government in Wales.

And if UK Labour drags its heels we must lead the way, making use of the clear red water which has served Wales well in the past.

Welsh Labour's unique success in the UK over the past two decades was a combination of many factors - but it is clear from that experience we must speak with a very clear voice, drawing on distinctively Welsh, internationalist, socialist and anti-fascist traditions - and mean what we say. We have done that repeatedly on public services, housing, environment and inequality.

Labour's policy must now reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of our members and supporters in Wales and across the UK. Otherwise we risk the disaster of that night translating into a devastating defeat in the next Assembly and Westminster elections.

Never again can Labour policy on the most crucial issue of our time leave us on the wrong side not just of our voters, but of history.

We need to be the party that leads the fightback against Nigel Farage and his latest attempt to make the politics of hatred and bigotry look normal and respectable.

The lack of clarity around Labour's policy was a deliberate, pretty cynical and ultimately self-defeating attempt to split the difference between different groups.

Our UK and Welsh leadership need to continue to listen to our voters, members - and trade unionists whose jobs are on the line over Brexit - and pay less heed to the small band of ideologues who are now damaging their leaderships and prospects for government.

Over the weekend, candidates to succeed Theresa May have embarked on an arms race over who can take the most extreme position on Brexit as they compete against each other for the support of the few, increasingly extreme, Conservative Party members who will pick the next Prime Minister.

But whoever wins this summer will find the maths in Westminster has not changed.

That's because there is no form of Brexit that can meet all the promises made for it and, therefore, no stable majority for any specific way of leaving the EU.

The prospect of the new Prime Minister trying to force a no-deal Brexit on the British people by running the clock down to the October 31 deadline is a democratic and constitutional outrage.

The consequences for businesses, jobs and the possible break-up of the UK would be hung around the Conservative Party's neck for a generation to come.

It would be a massive mistake for MPs on any side to conclude the lesson from these elections is that there is somehow a mandate for the catastrophic crash-out from the EU that Nigel Farage is going around calling for. Less than a third of the Leave voters from 2016 turned out for Farage's extreme prospectus. It's time to recognise the only democratic way to solve this crisis and establish a lasting settlement over Brexit is to put this crucial question back to the people.

Whether you want to leave the EU or to stay in, it is only by putting this issue back to the people for their final say that we can unlock the Brexit process in Parliament, secure a stable majority in Westminster and legitimise the outcome.

Normally loyal voters to Welsh Labour who back our radical domestic agenda, oppose austerity and back the Welsh Labour approach to public services have sadly left us in droves over our perceived failure on this era-defining issue.

We must regain their trust, or risk abandoning Wales to the populist far right and the forces of nationalism.

The statement of our Welsh leader is a welcome and robust response - it must now be followed by action, and at a UK level too.

>> Geraint Talfan Davies: Page 26 > 'Never again can Labour policy on the most crucial issue of our time leave us on the wrong side not just of our voters, but of history'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 29, 2019
Words:875
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