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May vs Corbyn: the vacuous meets the hopeless

by Quentin Peel | 10.05.2017

Three weeks after Theresa May called a snap general election on Brexit, challenging all political parties to set out their proposals for leaving the EU, she has still failed to do so herself.

Virtually all she has done so far is to spell out her red lines: no free movement and no recognition of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, once the UK has left. That means Britain must leave the EU single market, and the customs union, not to mention the Euratom nuclear energy agency, and a whole host of EU regulatory bodies that are subject to ECJ oversight.

The only positive things she has said about the future are either platitudes, or wishful thinking. She wants “a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world”. The UK will “regain control of our own money, of our own laws and our own borders”, leaving it free to strike trade deals with the rest of the world.

The prime minister has also promised a swift agreement to guarantee the future rights of EU citizens in Britain, and British citizens in the rest of the EU, without spelling out what that may mean. She has expressed scepticism – although not entirely dismissed – about the need for the UK to settle its financial accounts with its EU partners before leaving.

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She says she has the “right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe,” but she has told neither her electors, nor her negotiating partners in the EU, what that is.

Meanwhile we have heard that talks with Jean-Claude Juncker did not go well, while May has declared at other times, with terrifying insouciance, that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. No wonder that UK exporters and finance houses are starting to plan for a “cliff edge” crash. As for the UK electorate, they are being asked to vote for a pig in a poke.

The trouble is that Jeremy Corbyn is too confused about his own position to hold her to account. In a speech yesterday morning the leader of the opposition insisted that the outcome of the UK referendum was “settled”. However, later the same day in an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, he refused to say – six times – whether there were any circumstances in which he – as prime minister – would abandon the Brexit process and opt to remain in the EU. He has never been more than lukewarm about the EU, and now he is torn between voters in the Labour’s northern industrial heartlands who favoured Brexit and those in metropolitan areas who heavily supported Remain.

Consequently he fails to challenge May to provide details of her Brexit plan. He leaves everyone utterly confused as to whether he is a closet Brexiter or a secret Remainer. He could not even bring himself to say that if there were no deal, he would refuse to accept it. The benighted British voters are being asked to choose between May’s utter vacuousness and Corbyn’s total confusion.

Edited by Alex Spillius

2 Responses to “May vs Corbyn: the vacuous meets the hopeless”

  • Of course when you are a poker game for immense stakes it is simply obvious that you tell everybody at the table before hand what you are about to do! Do try not to be so childishly naive in your writings.

  • Jason,
    A game of poker is between private individuals with only their reputations or money at stake. This is not even a negotiation between private commercial companies, it involves the interests of all British citizens and businesses, what we want and what we hope for. Therefore we have a right to know which rights are potentially being negotiated away.
    The irony is that the EU package will have to be ratified not only by the European Parliament, but the 27 member states’ parliaments, and even regional parliaments such as Flanders and Wallonia in Belgium. So you are saying to keep everything secretive, whilst its all going to be scrutinised by all these assemblies. The reason the May Government wants to keep everything secret is so that in the meantime they can keep using these vague cliches and platitudes, in the hope they don’t get found out before the deed is done.