One week ago today, it became increasingly clear in the early hours of Friday morning that voters – by a small majority – had chosen to take the nations of the United Kingdom out of the European Union, I felt anger. Not anger with those voters, but with the Tory Party who created this outcome.
It was right that the man who had brought about this crisis in our country should resign, and when he did my thoughts were ‘good – now for the rest of your government to follow.’ It seemed obvious, the Tories were finished.
It was therefore with complete dismay over the following days that I witnessed Labour MPs and Labour people blame Jeremy Corbyn, and launch a coup against his leadership.
This week in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minster Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is the Conservatives who have recklessly brought this country to the brink of disaster. No longer will the Tories have any credibility in suggesting that they are the party of economic stability or even the party of the United Kingdom. It is the reckless, selfish behaviour of the Conservative Party that has put economic stability and the reputation of the UK on the line.”
She is right and all parties in our Parliament except the Tories agree with her.
Many Labour Party members I have spoken to then expected their elected representatives at Westminster to point the finger at those who were responsible, the Tories.
Following the Brexit vote Labour had a duty to show leadership in a time of great upheaval. Our MPs should have put the blame squarely on those who called for this referendum and ran campaigns of mistruths and hate. The Tories have divided our country, jeopardised our economy and allowed far-right extremists to feel justified in attacking people on our streets.
Regardless of their opinion of Jeremy Corbyn, there was a responsibility on every Labour MP to be a collective strong UK opposition offering leadership and direction. We are witnessing the Tories at their weakest, in turmoil over a leadership election whilst the UK is leaderless, and now we sadly find ourselves in the same situation.
The Labour Party should have been speaking up for our country, putting Labour values first and working with nations, regions and cities to find a way forward. Instead we now look even weaker and more divided than the Tories.
Even if those within the Labour Party who think Corbyn’s leadership is weak were right (I personally don’t think they are), they had an obligation to the country to put their views aside to address the immediate crisis.
We must stand united in comradeship and ensure that we do everything within our power to protect the country at this time. Every option must be explored.
Scotland voted to remain in Europe and there is a determination in Scotland’s Parliament to get the best deal for Scotland. Over the coming days, weeks and months we must chart a way through to achieve this. It is clear that those who fought the case for Brexit have no plan, and the sorry sight of Westminster’s main parties imploding on themselves gives little cause for optimism.
I plea to all MPs, especially Labour, to face up to the immediate challenges our countries in the UK are facing, leave the internal party politics at the door and unite to find a way through the economic, social and constitutional crisis the UK now finds itself in.
Alex Rowley MSP, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party