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Corbyn is lesser of two evils than May on Brexit

by Hugo Dixon | 30.05.2017

The Brexit policies of both the Tories and Labour have multiple flaws. But at least Jeremy Corbyn would seek common ground with EU. Theresa May, by contrast, is likely to take an antagonistic approach which could lead to us crashing out of the bloc with no deal.

That, of course, is not the prime minister’s spin. Her argument today was that Corbyn would find himself “naked in the negotiating chamber” when Brexit talks start next month if he wins the election.

Labour’s approach to Europe is far from perfect. It wants to pull us out of the EU’s single market, which is responsible for half our trade. That would be bad for the economy. It has also rejected the idea that the people should be asked to confirm that they want to leave the EU once they know what Brexit really means.

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Corbyn himself doesn’t inspire confidence. Would he be on top of the detail? Does he know how to negotiate?

These flaws, however, are trumped by May’s. For a start, she keeps threatening to quit the EU without a deal if she can’t get a good one. This would be bonkers – and not just because it would trash our economy, which will be harmed anyway by her decision to quit the EU’s customs union as well as the single market.

The prime minister also relishes her reputation as a “bloody difficult woman”. She seems to be limbering up for a fight with our EU partners – criticising them today for their “aggressive negotiating position” – in part because that’s what the hardliners in her party and backers in the media want. But she doesn’t appreciate that the EU holds more of the cards than we do, and that such antagonistic tactics could easily end in tears.

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Meanwhile, May has a passion for secrecy, which led to her putting her so-called dementia tax into the Tory manifesto without discussing it in cabinet. The same character trait is likely to lead to mistakes in the Brexit talks.

Corbyn is much more conciliatory. His promise to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain the first day he is in Downing Street will change the mood music in other European capitals. The leader of the opposition also doesn’t have to worry about hardline Brexiters in his party pushing him into extreme positions.

What, though, about the prime minister’s contention that Corbyn is weak? She says he has “lurched chaotically from half-baked plan to half-baked plan” and “this is no time for a weak leader to be making it up as they go along.” Well, the leader of the opposition certainly doesn’t look strong. But neither does the prime minister. Her multiple flip-flops – most recently over the dementia tax – have been noted in Brussels.

How dreadful that the British people have a devil’s choice on June 8 between these two deeply flawed leaders. But, on Brexit at any rate, Corbyn is the lesser of two evils.

7 Responses to “Corbyn is lesser of two evils than May on Brexit”

  • You seem to have fallen for the Tory line that the negotiations will be conducted personally by the Prime Minister. Why on earth should that be the case? It would be absurd!

    Surely, the Tories would field David Davis (arch-libertarian, inveterate optimist). In the same way, I would assume that Labour would field Sir Keir Starmer QC. I know who I would trust more.

  • Hugo,

    This is a bonkers article, Corbyn would be an absolute disaster for the country and most of the Labour party know it. You forget May did not want out of the EU in the first place and Corbyn did. In fact he is completely against the EU. Here are a whole bunch of quotes from him from his now deleted website. They are widely quoted, quotes in various newspapers.

    Mr Corbyn wrote: “There is a strong socialist argument against the Lisbon Treaty and the economic consequences that flow from it.
    “What is also explicit in both the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty is the imposition of a market economy on Europe, a control on borrowing made by any member states’ government and serious control on the political choices open to any one member state.
    “Thus, the British government had to explain to the European Union why it proposed to take Northern Rock into public ownership, for how long it intended that to be the case and give assurances about the bank’s future.”
    He added that EU law makes it “impossible” for a Government to take a bank into public ownership and criticised the intrusion of EU law into British state affairs.

    So how is Corbyn the lesser of two Evils now?

  • James
    He didn’t use the name but Corbyn is pointing out the difficulty of using Keynesian methods. Because the euro was designed by bankers, led by an American Robert Mundell, it is a neo-liberal design.
    When the financial crisis hit Europe Govt. revenues fell faster than cuts to spending. They were forced to borrow in the market (more private profit to the very interests who caused the problem). They embarked on a course of austerity which further hit demand as one person’s spending is another’s income. They needed to stimulate state spending . There would be a multiplier effect as people came back into work or under-employment they spend their wages and pay taxes. Eventually the ECB saw sense but all the forecasts about the results of austerity were proven wrong.
    There needs to a reform in those rules to enable better demand management. I would like to see the euro continue but there have to be changes.

  • I have heard Jeremy Corbyn say that he wants to keep the UK in the Customs Union and single market, so I do not know where you get your “facts” from. The rest of your article seems reasonable enough. It is unlikely that either Teresa May or Jeremy Corbyn would be personally conducting negotiations, but they would set the tone, and as you rightly say Corbyn’s conciliatory approach, and his willingness to listen, and find common ground, would be so much more successful than May’s bombastic, and arrogant, rather typical Tory, “we-know-best-sony” approach.

  • A dignified and extremely intelligent Keir Starmer QC, or David Davis, the shambolic, self-confessed liar who seems to find insulting our European neighbours and friends “clever”. It really is no contest as far as I’m concerned.