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Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Labour position on Brexit has more spin than substance

There are two points of interest surrounding yesterday's so-called 'dramatic policy shift' by Labour on Brexit, the first of which is that for all his passion and sincerity, Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer is doing all the heavy lifting, whilst his party leader does his best to ignore the issue altogether.

Time after time, Jeremy Corbyn has whipped his MPs to vote with the Conservatives against the Single Market and for a hard Brexit. Yesterday the Labour leader was speaking in Scotland and barely acknowledged the issue, if he mentioned it at all.

Unless Starmer can take his party leadership with him on this issue, rather than relying on formulaic words, then Labour will remain as conflicted and confused over EU membership as they have been since Corbyn became leader.

The second point is more fundamental. A close analysis of the position that Keir Starmer has set out is that, much as he values single market membership and freedom of movement, it stops short of an outright call to stay in the EU or for a confirmatory referendum or Parliamentary vote on the final deal.

Labour remain fixated on immigration and freedom of movement, despite the fact that all the evidence shows that this benefits the economy and that without European workers key sectors could grind to a halt.

Equally, Starmer is talking only about a transitional period, admittedly of indeterminate length, at the end of which the country will still fall off an economic cliff.

This is not a vision for the future, it is a holding position forced on him by his failure to take his colleagues with him. It is spin more than substance, yet another failure of leadership by the official opposition.
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