Sunday, September 24, 2017

Now that May and Corbyn share the same policy on Brexit, what next?

It was a move in the right direction when Labour recently shifted their position from complete confusion on Brexit to one in which they support an undefined transition period during which the UK would continued to be in the Single Market. Once the transition was over, Labour policy was to continue with their demands for a hard Brexit. It wasn't much of a move forward, but it was at least a shuffle in the right direction. Then along came Theresa May who knocked up a few air miles to whiz off to Florence to give a speech which announced that the UK would in effect remain in the Single Market for a two year "implementation" period. So now that Labour and the Conservatives are, yet again, hand in hand on the key issue of the day, where next for those who think the UK's national interest is going to be hugely damaged by cutting ourselves off from Europe?

It's time for the sensible wing of the Labour Party to make a stand. They have clearly had a modest success recently by being able to make a small change in the Labour Brexit approach but they need to press harder. It is interesting to note that some MPs and council leaders have backed calls today for Labour to support a policy of staying permanently in the Single Market, something on which the Lib Dems fought the last election. We need to work with like minded people in the Labour party on this issue, just as we have to work with like minded Conservatives.

The response of Corbyn however was both disappointing and expected. Let's face it, he's a Leaver, he always has been and he has not changed his spots now. He views the EU as a capitalist conspiracy against the proletariat which stands in the way of his grand plans to nationalise everything. Corbyn is, of course, wrong. Failing banks were nationalised under the last Labour government. The claim that the EU is forcing privatisation is farcical. The Corbynistas claim for example that the EU would stop them nationalising rail. Such an inaccurate claim is already undermined by previous Labour propaganda which pointed out that many of the companies bidding to run rail services in the UK were nationalised rail operators in other EU countries. Furthermore, the EU did not stand in the way of nationalising the East Coast rail service when National Express handed back the franchise. Labour should at least make their attacks consistent.

The reality is however that Labour are led by a Leaver and getting him to shift from this position will be very difficult. Corbyn has the chance to make a real difference. All he will end up doing is to prop up a Hard Brexit Conservative government.

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