Following Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide re-election to the Labour leadership, his address to the Labour Party Conference sought to elaborate on the way forward for the party during Brexit. Corbyn refused to make “false promises” on immigration numbers, instead proposing to re-introduce Gordon Brown’s Migration Impact Fund to assist communities in dealing with the pressures caused by immigration. However, Corbyn’s lack of commitment to curbing immigration will cause further consternation among Labour MPs who are now arguing that the Party needs to recognise that a significant bloc of its core voters – the working class – voted to leave the EU because of their concerns on this.
The question that remains is whether the speech will have managed to bring together the differing ideologies within the Labour Party, or will his propositions only exacerbate their problems. By not discussing the problems associated with immigration, Corbyn’s call for the Party to ready itself for a general election next year will be compromised: Labour needs to gain back support from the working class vote in order to win an election, but it is likely that Corbyn’s comments will further disenfranchise its main base of support.
What was also notably absent from the speech was a plan for how Labour would take on Brexit negotiations should they take up the mantle of government while the talks are still being carried out. It was an opportune moment for the famously Euro-ambivalent Corbyn to put forward what a Labour-led Brexit would look like, as the Government has so far been vague in outlining any negotiating stance to the increasing frustration of its own members, including former Conservative Secretaries of State. It would have been an easy way for Labour to assert itself as able to govern the UK through an unprecedented political climate, which was somewhat lost on the victorious Labour leader.