There are strong voices in the Labour Party, in the trade unions and even on the Labour left arguing that, after the Brexit vote, the labour movement should support further restrictions on freedom of movement and migrants’ rights.
Paul Mason, Len McCluskey, even some in Momentum have taken such a position. On 1 July, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was reported in the press as saying that with exit from the EU, the limited freedom of movement that exists would come to an end. McDonnell has since said that he was misrepresented — that he was talking about the legal situation, that he and Jeremy Corbyn support freedom of movement and will defend it. That’s good.
On 5 July, a Labour motion to defend the rights of EU nationals in the UK passed 245-2 after the government abstained — though that is obviously a different question from future migration from Europe, let alone extending free movement.
Whatever the twists and turns at the top of the labour movement, the rank-and-file left needs to assert and impose a clear position to defend and extend migrants’ rights and actively challenge lies about migrants and migration.
Without that, the urgent task of strengthening workers’ class consciousness and building a real movement to fight the Tories’ continuing attacks will be impossible. In a few days, hundreds of Momentum activists across the country have signed a statement calling for the Labout left organisation to take a clear stand as part of mobilising the Labour Party and labour movement to do the same.
This position has been backed by the Lewisham and Liverpool Momentum groups, both at packed meetings. We will be building support in the run up to the Momentum National Committee on 23 July. Please add your name to the statement and put it forward for your Momentum group or other labour movement body.
• See Jill's Momentum blog