Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was built on democratic foundations, it’s time for him to give us a say on Brexit, writes Antony Thomas.
As a long-time socialist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter (from the days when it was unfashionable to be one), I am mystified not just by Labour’s response to the absolute Tory chaos of Brexit, but by the continuous fudging of the most important issue facing us for generations.
Nobody can argue that Corbyn is not passionate about fairness in society. His desire to renationalise the railways and utilities, and a return to full public ownership of schools and the NHS are principles anyone with a sense of humanity would support.
However, this zeal has itself seemingly manifested into the same ‘taking our country back’ narrative mouthed (for very different reasons) by the likes of Rees-Mogg and Farage. In many ways, Corbyn is as much of a Brexiter as them.
But this is madness. There is no evidence that a Labour government programme of huge investment in our infrastructure and a policy of renationalisation will be disrupted by EU membership. I don’t see the French or Germans getting penalised for the strong national protectionism of their transport systems (funded, in part, by taking over our creaking private versions). I see no EU human and workers’ rights laws being an anathema to socialism.
And here lies the paradox: Corbyn’s leadership was built on democratic foundations of every member having a say. So, what better than to give the 600,000 members a ballot on in/out?
I have no doubt that Remainers would win handsomely (probably 65%) and this would then form party policy. The right-wing media and Tories would find it difficult to hammer the leadership for U-turns as they would be applying the will of their people.
At present Corbyn’s bewildering half-baked, soft Brexit approach means nothing to anyone, and risks Labour being in the political wilderness for another decade. Our NHS cannot afford another Tory government.
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