Labour must let the Tories carry the can for Brexit on their own
- Credit: Archant
Readers have their say on how Labour should vote on any Brexit deal.
Let us assume, as Alastair Campbell does, that the government reaches a deal with the EU. It is sincerely to be hoped that the Labour Party does not support any such arrangement. To reject a bad deal is not only in the best interests of the Labour Party, but also in the longer run in the best interests of the country. In due course the UK, or what remains of it after Brexit impacts fully on the Union, will need leadership with a positive attitude to Europe.
The Brexiteers in charge of the Conservative Party know that not even Covid will provide them with an adequate scapegoat for the economic hardships that a bad deal will visit on the UK. That a trap is being set for opposition parties is all too obvious.
It is surprising that the Labour leadership appears to be willing to court the risks associated with this by failing to oppose a bad deal. Memories must be very short; for years after the 2008 international banking crash, every Conservative who appeared in the media mentioned “Labour’s recession”, even if the topic at hand was not the economy. “Labour’s recession” was repeated again and again and again, while Labour stood silent, until it became conventional wisdom, and made the winning of subsequent general elections well-nigh impossible.
This “Labour recession” untruth has only relatively recently faded out of use. It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that the Brexiteers will enthusiastically tar Labour with a similar brush when Brexit hits the economy if the parliamentary Labour party has voted for the deal. For the good of the country, as well as the Labour Party, it is essential that the Conservatives are allowed full ownership of their deal. Labour must oppose it. Doing so will not only allow the party to hold the Tories to account with conviction, but will also provide the electorate with clear and wise leadership in difficult times.
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Should Keir Starmer be called upon to support a deal, it’s vital he attaches a condition, without which he instantly loses his power. Brexit has happened. We cannot turn the clock back, but we can look forward to the fight to rejoin that has yet to commence.
This could be the moment for Starmer to inform the government that the price of his support is that, should Brexit fail (as it surely will), he will immediately lead a Labour campaign to rejoin the EU at the earliest opportunity.
This would not only generate a great deal of excitement, but it would also show Labour as the only creditable party that offers a way out of this horrendous Tory-led debacle.
The condition will also act as a check on Boris Johnson, making it tricky for him to remind Starmer in the future that he voted with the government and not against it. Starmer has a threat against the government he can play at any moment and the threat to Johnson becomes Starmer’s promise to the country.
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At this time we all need some degree of hope and Labour definitely needs a new, strong affirmative direction that proudly and defiantly sets it apart from the Tories and the previous Corbyn-led Labour Party. Supporting rejoin now could be the master stroke that will lead us towards a fresh Starmer-led Labour government and a way back to the EU.
I certainly felt Alastair Campbell’s pain emanating from his column last week and for what it is worth, I feel that he is probably not alone in the plague-ridden wasteland that is Britain. I cannot conceive how we reached this point with crisis following crisis, with now the Good Ship Brexit possibly breaking up on the no-deal rocks as we speak.
This kamikaze trajectory since 2016 is now coming down to the wire but Labour must indeed distance itself, in whatever way it can from a monumental error that was and still is to leave the European Union. How Labour will achieve this, will prove a masterclass of political ingenuity and what is more putting the country first and foremost, with many of the public now suffering from a distinct attack of buyers’ remorse.
Judith A. Daniels
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