Keir Starmer is repeating the same mistakes as Jeremy Corbyn
- Credit: PA
Readers have their say on Keir Starmer's performance on Brexit and Europe.
A lot of us are trying to get our heads round Keir Starmer’s “the debate between Leave and Remain is over” (it certainly isn’t) and “we are not going to be a party that keeps banging on about Brexit” (yes we are). We’re also struggling with Michael White’s view of those quotes. Michael (TNE #213) says we may “passionately think Starmer is wrong. Realism suggests not – at least for the foreseeable future”. Frankly, this is capitulation at its worst.
It’s Corbyn all over again, straddling the fence trying to appeal to Leavers and Remainers. Any form of Brexit or no-deal are costly and damaging. Labour and the Lib Dems need to have Rejoining in pole position while getting on with all the other priorities.
I heartily endorse Andrew Adonis’ call for a third referendum on our European relationship (“Remiss not to copy the Swiss”, TNE #213), and that ideally one be held as soon as possible. The question, as he rightly states, is when it is politically feasible to convene one.
I also agree a referendum is not feasible until after the next general election, which almost inevitably will be in 2024. However, his criticism of the Lib Dems making rejoining a “long-term” goal is not merited. We need only recall Harold Wilson’s saying, “A week is a long time in politics”.
The Lib Dems are a party reeling from a brutal defeat in 2019 which many attribute to its Revoke Brexit policy. For the Lib Dems to have called in their recent conference motion for a membership referendum in the 2024 manifesto would have been premature, and would have backfired publicly.
It would again expose the party to renewed criticisms that it is not listening, and is one which is out of touch with the public’s understandable preoccupation with the pandemic and its tragic health and economic consequences.
Having been closely involved in the drafting of the Lib Dem Europe motion, I appreciate the twin-track motion passed by the party may not be as strong as some would wish. However all pro-Europeans should be pleased to see at least one political party publicly keeping the flame of EU membership alive in such difficult political circumstances (not least as Labour did not even convene a vote on a Europe motion at its conference).
There will be many future opportunities for conference motions, and it can only be hoped more propitious circumstances will allow for more and stronger motions, including a commitment to a public vote on EU membership in party manifestos. As St Augustine prayed, “O Lord make me pure, but not yet”.
Vice-chair, Liberal Democrat European Group
Deborah Mattinson’s article (“Red Wall still waiting for post-Brexit dawn”, TNE #213) on how people from the Red Wall constituencies saw Brexit was really depressing.
Look at the tragedy of Yvonne from Doncaster who, instead of questioning what she had been told, was upset that “people called her ignorant and ill-educated” and that despite her very limited knowledge about the EU still believed that “we know best. I was so angry and upset about it”.
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It’s now time that Keir Starmer and Labour do what they can to counter the propaganda of Leave. They must continue to tell voters, especially those in the Red Wall constituencies, about how leaving the EU is damaging the lives of ordinary people and will continue to do so for many years to come.
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