.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Labour fudge barely distinguishes them from the Tories

If we were to hold national Brexit awards it would be a close call as to which political party would win the 'meaningless fudge of the year' prize.

On the one hand we have the Tories, who appear to be stumbling from misunderstanding, to split to Walter Mitty schemes, and onto a hard exit without once being able to sit down with EU negotiators armed with any clear objectives or any idea how they are going to get to their declared final destination.

On the other hand, we have Labour who are determined to talk a good game of saving jobs and us continuing to enjoy the benefits of the single market, without staying in it, whilst at the same time trying not to upset the thousands of Labour voters who want to leave, irrespective of the fact that the vast majority of their supporters and MPs take the opposite view. It is a balancing act on top of a razor blade that can only end in excruciating disaster.

Every time I think about it I come back to the final paragraph of George Orwell's Animal Farm: 'Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.'

The latest wheeze by Labour falls very much into the scenario described above. They have been presented with a unique opportunity by the House of Lords to defeat the Government, whilst setting down a marker as to what type of Brexit they want. All the work has been done for them by a cross party alliance in the other place. They just have to walk through the right lobby at the right time.

As the Guardian makes it clear, Labour peers ambushed the party leadership last month when the amendment, tabled by Lord Alli, demanded that remaining a member of the EEA was a negotiating objective. But no, Corbyn and his allies prefer to indulge in gesture politics.

They are proposing an amendment to create an “internal market” that would deliver a new and close relationship with the European Union but falls short of membership of the single market while maintaining many of its advantages. This is not the full single market membership sought by a vocal group of Labour MPs and is virtually identical to Theresa May's ultimate goal, something that has been ruled out already by the other 27 countries. EU negotiators have repeatedly made it clear that there can be no cherry picking to the UK’s advantage in the negotiation:

Chris Leslie, a leading Labour Remainer, said: “If the frontbench are missing the opportunity to secure the EEA single market as a UK negotiating objective, there will be utter dismay and shock across the Labour movement.”

Another Labour rebel said the leadership had “scrapped the Lords amendment (which is the only one the Tories will support) and replaced it with fudge”.

Former Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said the party should back the Lords push for EEA membership instead. The Labour MP said Tory MPs “won’t vote for a Labour frontbench amendment” and if the party was “serious” about averting a hard Brexit “we must vote for the existing backbench cross-party Lords amendment”.

Some Tory rebels are also looking at some form of relationship as close to the EEA as possible, as a way of averting a catastrophic departure from the EU.

This amendment is also inept tactically. It will not attract the support of Tory Remainers. If Corbyn wants to achieve his objective of putting the Tories on the back foot and forcing them to negotiate seriously to remain in a free trade area where jobs are protected, then he needs to follow the lead set by the Lords rather than undermine cross-party unity with his own amendments.

The question of course is does Corbyn really care? Is he actually happy for Theresa May to take us over the Brexit cliff edge? He is certainly acting as if that is what he wants.
Comments: Post a Comment



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?