Labour & Brexit

On Labour & Brexit: up till last week, Corbyn & Starmer were talking about negotiating the best Brexit terms, in Starmer’s words,  no worse than membership. Corbyn’s interview over the weekend raised the possibility that Brexit would mean exit from the Single Market. This has caused a furore in the Labour Party and amongst some of its new friends.

This heat of this debate was raised by Barry Gardiner’s article in the FT stating that in a post EU existence the Customs Union was a problem but McDonnell says that nothing is off the table, and Starmer in a speech to Labour in Business repeats his six criteria and again states that nothing is off the table.

On Tuesday, my branch of the Labour Party debated this and voted, in part as a reaction to this debate, to remain in the Single Market and to take the issue to conference. In my speech, I seconded it, I argued that Conference had a policy, which I have mirrored here which was to ensure that the exit terms ensured no diminishing of workers, consumer, citizenship and migrant rights and that if the terms of exit breached these conditions that a second mandate (from Parliament, a General Election or Referendum) must be sought and that remaining in the EU is to be considered. This policy was established after the referendum. The 2017 Manifesto, approved by the Clause V meeting stated that,

Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first.We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.

So three days later, I can accept that outcomes are important not structures and that an EEA/Swiss style deal might be acceptable to me provided we seek a second mandate.

I added that Labour are in opposition, and that the most likely way to get a third election is to defeat the Tories in the House of Commons. Stating that we would do in Government is premature and we are unclear which faction of the Tories will vote with us or abstain. It would be more sensible to retain our ambiguity on these issues.

In terms of timing, we, i.e. the British People, are running out of time. It may well be that the only option available by the time government falls is to revoke the Article 50 notice. Pretending that we can negotiate a Brexit deal & transitional agreement in 12 months is almost certainly a mistake.

Labour & Brexit