My article for the Edinburgh Evening News on 30 May 2019. You can read the full article on the Edinburgh Evening News website here.
EDINBURGH is one of the most pro-remain cities in the UK and people here understand the vital need to preserve our membership of the EU.
Tens of thousands of jobs in the Capital depend on the European single market, our universities rely on vital European funding, and workers from across the EU have made their home here, contributing to our local economy, culture and communities.
It was therefore patently obvious that the European elections would deliver a strong result for pro-remain political parties.
Unfortunately, the constructive ambiguity from my own party’s leadership meant that people in the city didn’t consider Labour met that criteria despite being an internationalist, pro-European party. When you stand in the middle of the road you get hit by both sides.
I and many of my colleagues warned them what would happen, but they wouldn’t listen.
It was a horrible night for those of us who have devoted our lives to the Labour movement.
Earlier this week I made my views very clear about who I blame for that, and it certainly isn’t the voters, the party workers and activists, or our brilliant top candidate David Martin, who sadly no longer represents us in Brussels after decades of dedicated service to Scotland.
I said we needed a period of reflection, and I’m pleased that has happened.
Leader Richard Leonard has personally committed to supporting a public vote and Scottish Labour’s decision-making body will next month be asked to agree to campaign for remaining in the EU. It is all too little too late for the elections just passed but it is the right thing to do for our constituents.
It should have happened sooner of course, but I hope voters accept this genuine change of heart from those at the top of the party. The voters have spoken, and they have listened. For that credit is due. To ignore the voice of the voters would have been catastrophic.
Jeremy Corbyn must now follow suit with the wider UK party and do what he always said he would do and listen to Labour Party members and supporters who want him to unambiguously support a public vote on any deal parliament agrees.
I have been campaigning for the public to have a final say on Brexit since I helped launch the campaign in April 2018, as it is the only way out of this mess.
As every day goes by, we get closer to that goal. A number of senior Tories have now moved towards this inevitability this week alone.
We know there is no majority in the country for crashing out of the EU without a deal, but crucially we also know there is no majority for that in the UK Parliament.
Changing the Prime Minister does not change the parliamentary arithmetic.
Whoever emerges victorious in the contest to replace Theresa May will have to accept that the only way to solve the Brexit crisis is to give the public the final say.