Jo Stevens’ resignation letter is mistaken in several ways

Jo Stevens: ‘I must follow my principles and my conscience, even where that conflicts with the party’s whip.’ [Image: Tracey Paddison/Rex/Shutterstock].

When This Writer met Jo Stevens last year, she seemed a very friendly, genuine person, so I feel bound to accept that her words are sincere.

The problem is that they are also anti-democratic and contradictory.

It seems this “passionate European” is putting her own feelings above the decision of the nation – and has forgotten that the whole of the United Kingdom made this choice. It is to the country that she is responsible in this instance, not just her Cardiff constituency.

I voted Remain and I accept that. So should Ms Stevens. She’ll find her principles won’t matter a farthing when the right-wing press is baying for her blood, as a “betrayer of democracy” or whatever they choose to call it.

Let’s not forget that the three-line-whip demanding support for the Article 50 Bill only extends to its second reading – to show that Labour supports the will of the people as expressed in the EU referendum last year. If the Tory government fails to demonstrate that it can deliver a departure from the EU that will be worthwhile for everyone, then Labour can, if the party so desires, comfortably vote against it as being against the public interest. Those are not contradictory positions, for obvious reasons – the Conservatives must show that they can make Brexit work.

Ms Stevens admits that she believes exiting the EU is inevitable. If she honestly cannot reconcile herself to it, then she is failing in her duty as a representative of the nation as a whole and should probably resign as an MP.

But I notice she hasn’t gone quite that far!

The shadow secretary for Wales, Jo Stevens, has resigned from her post, saying she could not reconcile herself to voting to trigger article 50 as she still believed leaving the EU would be “a terrible mistake”.

In her letter to the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Stevens said she was “a passionate European” who had voted to remain, as had a significant majority of her city and constituency of Cardiff.

The MP said she accepted the referendum result and recognised that she could not block the passage of the EU withdrawal bill and that exiting the EU was inevitable.

“But I believe that leaving is a terrible mistake and I cannot reconcile my overwhelming view that to endorse the step that will make exit inevitable is wrong,” she wrote.

Source: Labour MP Jo Stevens quits shadow cabinet over article 50 vote | Politics | The Guardian

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15 thoughts on “Jo Stevens’ resignation letter is mistaken in several ways

  1. Peter Hepworth

    For a hard Brexit to have been ‘the will of the people’ 97% of Leave voters would have had to have it in mind when they put their cross on the ballot paper, an inconceivable proportion. It is also highly likely that sufficient Leave voters regret (or ultimately will regret their decision) to sway the concensus to Remain. In these circumstances we should take every step we can to avoid the cultural and economic suicide of Brexit. Firstly, by stopping or delaying the triggering of Article 50. My fear is that Article 50 will give Brexit momentum by making it seem a fait accompli. Secondly, by thwarting the government’s plan to use Brexit to remove citizens’ rights, etc, via the Great Reform Bill. Thirdly, by insisting on a second referendum at the conclusion of negotiations and debate thereon.

      1. Peter Hepworth

        You are of course quite right and I am jumping ahead of myself. JC’s strategy, as admirably explained by yourself, has got to be right. What rankles with me currently is the apparent general acceptance, unquestioned in the popular media, that ‘the will of the people’ covers all shades of Brexit, including May’s extreme position. JC has to take this into account, of course, all though it’s nonsense.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Of course Labour never accepted that the ‘will of the people’ covers “all shades of Brexit”, as you put it – hence the plethora of amendments to the Article 50 Bill. To be fair, I don’t think the media did show a blind willingness to accept it either, as there has been plenty of coverage of Labour’s amendment plan.

  2. David Woods

    She should resign as an MP as she puts personal views above that of the populace and her constituents!
    All well and good ‘standing by your beliefs’ and ‘resigning’ but she cannot then expect the people of Britain to continue to pay her ‘wages’ when she openly states she will fight against the democratic will of these very same people!

    She will be their MP and represent ‘their’ views ‘but’ ONLY on her terms!

  3. Roland Laycock

    Jo Stevens as made a big mistake, I know how she feels but she as to stand and fight for the best she canget for her members and this is not done by handing in her resignation

  4. Barry Davies

    You have to doubt the veracity of someone who describes themselves as a passionate European when talking about the eu, it shows a lack of understanding that the europe and the eu are not interchangeable terms, the eu is only a part of the continent of Europe not the entirety and as such it is a false claim.

  5. tom

    Not only she is in contradiction with what she says but she has mentioned that not having access to the EU market that’s wrong because access is open to any country it’s the free trade or not who is in discussion.
    I hope more “blairits” will come out and stop interfering in the progress and the movement for change who is going all over the world.
    Soon with the elections in Holland in March then in France in May and in Germany in September Europe is going to change and probably the dislocation of some members
    states will force countries to abandon the union, return to their currencies, at last the Italian minister has recognized that the problem of the EU is the Euro.
    Finally we should not forget the people who’ll govern us the best are the one we’ll choose among us, sharing our lives, our sufferance,

  6. Signor tbf


    Wasn’t there a leader of our party who was always exhorting us to ‘see the bigger picture’?

    Why can’t MP’s do the same for the present leader, I wonder?


  7. Alun Parsons

    The idea that it is antidemocratic to vote against Brexit is moronic. There is *no* consensus for Brexit, this was an incredibly close result, and the Leave campaign told numerous lies repeatedly.
    It was more fraudulent than democratic.
    Furthermore, Stevens is a representative, not a delegate, she can think for herself.

    The fact that Labour is pushing a three line whip on the issue just goes to show how far off its trolley the party has fallen!

    For 30 years Labour was united over the issue of the EU, while the Tories were deeply divided, it takes a very special sort of incompetence for Corbyn to have reversed this.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No, it takes a certain kind of determination to unseat Corbyn – no matter how much damage it does to the Labour Party – from his opponents who don’t know any better.
      Your arguments are all false, for reasons I have detailed elsewhere.

  8. Martin

    There are certain issues which people of conscience may well never be able to accept no matter how many of their countrymen have voted for them. A majority of people in this country would support the reintroduction of capital punishment given the chance. If that was voted for in a referendum could you ever imagine most MPs would passively say “the people have spoken” and accept reintroduction of the gibbet and hangman’s noose? Just because a large number of people vote for and support something doesn’t mean that anybody has to accept that decision and/or stop challenging it. For goodness sake, Mike, your great hero Jeremy Corbyn defied the majority will of his own party and democratically elected government more than anybody you can shake a stick at. He did so based on his beliefs and conscience. So why so uncritical of Corbyn’s serial disloyalty and so critical of people rebelling against the shadow cabinet he leads when the disloyalty in both cases was based on principle? In a free society nobody should be forced to accept anything that they find unacceptable and prevented from peacefully challenging anything that they think is wrong.

    You are cutting off the branch that you yourself are sitting on.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Jeremy Corbyn defied the will of a Labour government on matters of conscience, involving choices made by the party’s leaders at the time. He did not defy the will of the British voters, as laid down in a plebiscite the like of which we had on June 23 last year. You are not comparing like with like.
      Corbyn’s rebellions did not threaten the viability of the Labour Party as an effective Opposition in the eyes of the electorate, as that of people like Jo Stevens has – and are you sure it’s based on principle and not on the desire to bring Corbyn down?
      You are right that, in a free society, nobody should be forced to accept anything they find unacceptable. Yet the vast majority of MPs – 70 per cent, from both sides of the House – campaigned for Remain before the referendum but voted to push the Brexit process along on Wednesday. If Labour had not supported the will of the people as expressed democratically in the referendum, it would have been labelled an enemy of democracy by the right-wing media, causing even more harm to its electability.
      You are arguing an impossible position and I think you know it. I wonder about your motives in doing so.

Comments are closed.