What should be the next Labour leader’s Brexit message?
- Credit: PA
Brexit has been cited as one of the biggest problems for the Labour at the general election, so what approach should its next leader take to the big issue of the day?
One of the most striking failures of the Labour campaign last December was any attempt to rebut or counter Johnson's "Get Brexit done" sound bite. The leadership's approach seemed to be to avoid the issue to campaign on bread and butter issues.
Should that be the approach adopted by the new leadership now Labour is on the sidelines, at the wrong end of an 80 Commons majority, or should we seek to offer a robust commentary on Johnson's conduct of negotiations with the EU? To do that we would need to develop our own sound bites.
You may also want to watch:
I think there are three reasons for having a strong line.
- 1 US election result could spark 'end of Brexit', claims peer
- 2 Brexiteer says EU 'spiteful' to end fast-track lanes for Brits after Brexit
- 3 STAR TURNS: Bond star haunted by school tragedy
- 4 'Assorted caviar' and 'board games' - Gifts confiscated from Boris Johnson due to anti-corruption laws
- 5 Boris Johnson 'hid in bedroom' to avoid grilling on Brexit stance days before becoming PM
- 6 Brexit shambles: A stress of our own making
- 7 Nigel Farage places £10,000 bet on Donald Trump to win second White House term
- 8 Farage says he can dodge US travel ban because he's a 'journalist'
- 9 Boris Johnson warned majority will be 'wiped out' over treatment towards north of England
- 10 Question Time: Tory minister told 'diverse' cabinet doesn't erase race issues in party
Firstly to seek to influence the outcome, thwarting the more dangerous and destructive consequence of the Johnson confrontational approach.
Secondly, it will help us to get an audience from the media, especially the broadcasters who will, otherwise, be tempted to treat Labour as irrelevant.
There is every chance that the new leader will get a bounce, possibly having better personal ratings than Johnson and bringing the party closer to parity in the polls with the Tories. To appear to be ducking Brexit will diminish that effect.
Thirdly, it will help us to make sure the Tories own the downsides of any Brexit deal they do.
So, what should we be saying? Here are some first thoughts.
We have to preface everything we say with an acceptance that Brexit is going to happen. That also means eschewing a policy many party members would support of going into the next general election advocating rejoining the EU.
We should say that "We support a Fair and Family-Friendly Brexit". The subtext to that is our test of any proposed deal is whether it protects jobs and living standards and is in the interests of British families and businesses.
We should say "we oppose a wrecker's Brexit", condemning any proposal or demand that hurts business and families in the pursuit of some illusory future deal with the US and others.
We should have a consistent line when companies cut jobs and investment on the explicit grounds that they were forced to do so by Brexit. My suggested sound bite is "1,000 job losses - Undone by Brexit."
As with Johnson and his sound bite, the key is repetition. It's a lesson Labour need to learn. We used to be good at it.
- Don Brind is a former political correspondent for the BBC and is the Labour Movement for Europe Press Officer. This article first appeared on the Labour Movement for Europe website.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.