Britain’s main opposition party, Labour, opens its annual conference on Saturday with divisions over Brexit as deep as those in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.
Some 13,000 of Labour’s 500,000-plus members are expected to attend the five-day event in the south-eastern coastal city of Brighton, where left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Brexit policy will come under intense scrutiny.
The conference is expected to be dominated by debates over how, or even whether, Britain should leave the European Union and how the party should fight a snap election expected in the next three months.
It begins as the country awaits a crucial Supreme Court ruling on Johnson’s controversial suspension of parliament, amid growing fears of a damaging no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.
Polls this week suggest Labour – traditionally one of the two main parties, along with the Conservatives – could slump to third place in an election, behind the resurgent, now totally anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.
Adding to Labour’s woes, Corbyn appears to be increasingly unpopular with voters.
He has vowed to agree a new Brexit deal with the EU if he becomes prime minister, and then give voters a referendum to choose between that deal and remaining in the bloc.
Corbyn promised to “put power into the hands of the people” and remain neutral in a referendum campaign.
But pro-EU Labour campaign groups are unhappy with that policy and plan to put forward a motion at the conference to force the party to “campaign energetically for a public vote and to Remain (in the EU).”