Thousands of Labor delegates on Monday rejected a motion opposing their leader Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit position.
"The vote has passed," says Wendy Nichols, chair of the session, and vice-chair of NEC, Labor's governing body. It is 6 pm on Monday, September 23, and the thousands of Labor Party delegates gathered for their annual convention in Brighton, have just spoken by show of hands for a motion going against the position defended by Jeremy Corbyn, their leader, in the Brexit framework.
A beginning of internal rebellion? This "motion 13" put to the vote calls for the party to officially campaign to stay in the European Union (EU), in the next general election. These could take place quickly, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson losing his majority in the House of Commons in early September.
Mr Corbyn, he refuses to decide before these future elections, sticking to the promise made a year ago, a referendum with a question in balance, a renegotiated agreement with Brussels or the continuation in the EU . This Monday, it's been two hours in a tense atmosphere, the delegates parade at the podium, spreading their divisions.
"No, no, no, the vote has not passed, it has not passed! " correct a few moments later Mme Nichols. "That's what I saw, it's like that! " adds the session chair, her face purple as protests begin to be heard in the room. A delegate leaps to the podium, says it's a crucial decision to be made by Labor on Brexit, calls for a secret ballot, but Mme Nichols remains unyielding …
A desire for party unity
Jeremy Corbyn was hot: the vote on this motion threatened to turn to a vote of no confidence when his leadership was seriously heckled in recent days. Several of his lieutenants, Tom Watson, his number two, Emily Thornberry, his "shadow minister" of foreign affairs, and even a part of Momentum, the activist movement yet very close to Mr. Corbyn, had openly challenged the leader, demanding a definite commitment to "Remain".