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Analysis

Does Corbyn really want to stop us crashing out of the EU?

by Hugo Dixon | 10.01.2019

There’s a theory that the Labour leader would be happy with “no deal” if he can blame the resulting chaos on the Tories. But if he genuinely wants to avoid the abyss, he needs to back a People’s Vote and do so fast.

Some ruthless politicians think the ends justify the means. In this case, the idea is that it is worth going through the agony of a hard Brexit to reach a hard-left paradise. People would lose their jobs and there would be less money for public services such as the NHS. But in the process the Tories would be so destroyed that Jeremy Corbyn would be able to enter Downing Street with a landslide.

Is it possible that the leader of the opposition would be so cynical? Let’s hope not. Rather, let’s take him at his word and suppose that he wants to stop both the prime minister’s deal and “no deal”.

If so, Corbyn should heed the wise words of Keir Starmer. Labour’s Brexit spokesperson has told his leader that a new referendum may now be the only viable way to stop “no deal”, according to the Times.

But Corbyn still thinks, or pretends, otherwise. He said today that Labour would press for an election and negotiate a new better deal if MPs reject the government’s deal next week.

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But it’s most unlikely that Labour could bring Theresa May down in a vote of no confidence. Even if it did, there’s no time to negotiate a new deal. As Starmer recently said: “One of my greatest frustrations is that the chance to get the right deal has now gone.”

Corbyn says that, if Labour won an election, he would ask for more time. And it’s true, as Starmer said yesterday in Parliament, that the government has wasted so much time that we may have to postpone our departure from the EU, currently scheduled for March 29.

But Labour’s Brexit spokesperson added the important caveat that the other 27 EU members would have to agree to give us extra time. We could only be certain of getting that if we plan to hold a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.

This is why Corbyn needs to implement the various steps in Labour’s Brexit policy rapidly.

First he has to defeat the government’s deal next Tuesday. Then he needs to try immediately for a general election. After that, there will be no viable options left apart from a new referendum.

If the Labour leader drags his feet – and allows May or the hard Brexiters to run down the clock – he’s not serious about stopping “no deal”. And since he will share the blame for the ensuing crisis, he may not even be serious about getting into Downing Street either.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

10 Responses to “Does Corbyn really want to stop us crashing out of the EU?”

  • Corbyn has voted against the EU for more than 30 years and if he goes against his own 30 years of principles he loses my respect.

  • The notion that Corbyn might ask the EU27 for extra time to renegotiate the “deal” is surely for the birds. Not so much because the EU27 most probably wouldn’t be prepared to countenance that anyway, but because he will only stand a chance of winning a general election if the Labour party promises a further referendum to choose between the current deal and Remain. Any general election fought between parties offering (a) Brexit on May’s terms and Brexit or (b) some airy-fairy unreliable notion of what a Corbyn renegotiation might or might not achieve, will most likely lead either to another hung Parliament or, just possibly, a straight Conservative win.

  • Hello, please explain, to a deplorable, just why should a, supposedly democratic party, seek to overturn the expressed will of the majority?

  • What a load of baloney. Corbyn cannot implement his socialist paradise in the EU. He knows it, we know it, only the puppet media keep spewing out their elite masters propaganda.
    The EU has very precise rules on state subsidies, ownership and investment to level the playing field supposedly. Really it’s so the elites can fund their gravy train.
    If Corbyn is to enact renationalisation and investment in public services he has to be outside the ever closer union of the EU.

  • The thrill of cliff jumping, for a section of the population, should not be underestimated, and that includes Corbyn. Many voted Leave to ‘shake things up a bit’, a bit of destruction – or even a lot of destruction – is seen as a good thing. Out of the chaos and meltown, as Dixon says, a brave new society could be forged. It’s really the Jamestown ethos come to Britain. Drink the Kool Aid, then enjoy the after life.

  • ‘Respecting the expressed view of the majority’ has become a farcical slogan. Why, because the original campaign in 2016 on both sides was riddled with inaccuracies, lies, and suppositions. Today, nearly three years later, properly researched government information and many other reputable bodies, show that Remaining in the EU is by far the best deal for the overwhelming majority of the people in the UK.
    For any politician to argue otherwise is perverse and is a monumental deceit on the people of this once great nation.

  • @Marcus

    There are big questions marks about the legitimacy of the referendum, but even without those problems there is no reason why the Labour party should not support a further referendum.

    1) Since it would be a public vote, if the original decision were overturned it would be the people who overturned it, not the party. The same people who made the original decision would have changed their mind in the light of further knowledge.

    2) Even if the decision were taken by parliament rather than the people, it would still not be undemocratic under our constitution. Parliament is sovereign and referendums are therefore merely ‘advisory’ and could be ignored by parliament. This has never happened though, so a follow-up referendum is far more likely.

  • I fear we are too late to get a second vote; TM has done most of what she wanted to do by delaying this long.

    I believe we need to concentrate on beating her on Tuesday and then proposing a four year customs agreement with the EU, for implementation on 29th March.

    We would have honored the actual referendum result; this would not be sufficient for ERG, which is where the four year commitment to an external agreement gives them an (admittedly delayed) final ‘win’.

    Why four years? So we are through the next election – by a year – and while the EU goes into hibernation for the next nine months from June, there is still a decent amount of time to settle the trade deal.

    We have to look at what might bring the country together; nothing is going to give us what we had, but I think this goes someway towards it.

    In reality, the four year period would also see whether the UK holds together; I think we may have a referendum in Scotland by then and, quite likely one in both parts of Ireland on a united country.

    Let’s get it all out of the way and see what, if anything of value is left.

  • The most significant thing is that members of May’s own cabinet are implicated in the illegal Leave vote, connected with criminal activity to thwart democracy. May has ignored it because she wants to ignore it and get Brexit through at any cost. Why is Corbyn also giving it the wink and nod? So far none of his supporters have offered a suggestion. But he has done it for a reason. We ought to be wondering why.

  • Simply because the EU referendum provided no guidance as to what “leave the EU” meant. What was promised, the concord to win the vote, was easy trade deals (No); the exact same benefits as membership (No); continued membership of the single market (No); More money for the NHS – the “Brexit bonus” (No); taking back control (No – which is why even Breiters reject May’s deal) etc. Many things like leaving Euratom and the European Arrest Warrant were never mentioned.

    Since the pledges that were made to win the vote have all been vitiated, democracy requires that the vote should be annulled. As good democrats, remainers are not pushing for that but a final vote on the deal that HMG has obtained with an option to reject it and remain in the EU. Democracy is not a single event. Should the British people still wish to leave the EU on May’s terms then that will be the majority decision. If they don’t want it why should they be forced to accept it – particularly given the criminality, lies and misdirections of the original vote?