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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Labour's Brexit disarray

The Guardian reports that once more members of Labour’s shadow cabinet are at loggerheads over whether Britain can hope to remain in the customs union when it leaves the EU.

They say that Barry Gardiner, the shadow trade secretary, has argued that the only option open to the UK would be a Turkey-style customs agreement, but claimed that such a deal would be “a disaster” as it would leave the UK in a weak position:

However, the shadow Brexit and foreign secretaries, Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry, have told senior Labour colleagues that Britain could negotiate a better deal than Turkey and should be trying to do so.

They have said that negotiating a form of membership of the customs union, under which European countries negotiate trade deals collectively and have a common external tariff, must be kept on the table.

One shadow cabinet member told the Guardian that they were surprised Gardiner had made his comments publicly as the issue “was not settled” within the Labour party.

They revealed that Starmer and Gardiner had clashed over the positioning in meetings – with the issue creating tensions around the shadow cabinet table.

Another member of Jeremy Corbyn’s top team claimed the shadow trade secretary must have been speaking in a personal capacity “because that is not Labour party policy”. They claimed Starmer would be furious about the intervention, and profoundly disagreed with his colleague.

What exactly Labour policy is may be open to question. Former Welsh Government Minister, Leighton Andrews tweeted the actual Labour Conference policy on Brexit, which bears no resemblance to anything that Jeremy Corbyn or any of the factions within his shadow cabinet are saying.

It is clear from Leighton's twitter feed that he is growing increasingly frustrated at the May-Corbyn alliance on Brexit. At one stage he retweets a Labour Peer, who lamented: 'This is dreadful - Labour now has the same immigration policy as UKIP and a harder Brexit policy than the Tories', and has even advocated that Welsh Labour should split off from the UK party.

Labour's disarray on this issue is growing by the day, not only are they failing to represent the views of their members and those who voted for them, not only are they failing to provide an opposition, but it appears that they are hand-in-glove with the Tory Government on pursuing a hard Brexit.

No wonder sensible members like Leighton Andrews are in despair.
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