Brexit will be a disaster – so Labour needs to change its policy again to feel the benefit

6th September, 2017 9:00 am

Having wasted a whole year celebrating British independence, instead of planning for negotiations, the Tory government is now being accused by the EU of not being serious. For the Brexiteers, this is the culmination of a lifetime’s struggle for freedom, and it turns out that the EU are more prepared than they are.

Meanwhile the rest of the world is baffled that the British government wants to start trade negotiations when they can’t even get through the first stage of talks with the EU. How can the Tory government expect other countries to take them seriously when they don’t take themselves seriously?

Meanwhile the Labour leadership have clarified our position – that we want to stay in the single market and customs union for the transition period. This is a start but it is still an unsatisfactory policy, taking into account that the entire Brexit policy is based on a fallacy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you cannot square the circle. You cannot be an advocate of free trade while also wanting to leave the European Union, because no other institution on earth has done more for free trade than the EU. There are many more squares and circles than this.

It took a while for people to realise what a mess this Brexit policy is, because they saw that party leaders wanted Brexit and concluded that it is inevitable. In fact, all that happened was that the political stars had aligned, enabling the formation of a policy, not the implementation of that policy. Most policies never get implemented because they get shown to be faulty. Workers on company boards – while trade union rights are outlawed – is a good example. Obama’s promise to send a man to Mars might be another.

Labour’s new pro-single market policy was demanded by the trade unions who don’t want to see disruption to supply lines between British auto-component makers and the BMW assembly lines in Germany. Too many jobs now rely on the economic integration.

The Labour leadership see the Tories apparently united in purpose, but in fact the Tories are united only in their terror. If a herd of antelope bunch together because they are being circled by lions, then that isn’t a sign of confidence.

There is no shortage of potential Tory prime ministers in this parliament but none of them will make a move against Theresa May – even though they all agree that she is finished. A couple of years ago each one of them would have given his right arm to be the leader who took Britain out of Europe. They salivated at the idea of being remembered in history for such a momentous achievement. Now they back off from a challenge even though the opportunity is wide open. None of them want to be prime minister at the time when the Brexit car crashes.

Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader because he is stubborn. When all the other potential leaders had lost confidence in their own socialism, Jeremy stepped forward and told the world that he was proud to be a socialist. That’s why the party chose him as leader.

Today that stubbornness is harming the party. By now we should be 20 or 30 points ahead in the polls, but because Corbyn is still wedded to his ancient hostility to Brussels, he won’t act with the kind of alacrity we should expect of a political leader.

I’m very glad that Labour has a new policy on the transition period, but when Brexit finally collapses, as it inevitably will, Labour will struggle to catch up. We shouldn’t wait for that to happen before we consider our response. We should be ready to with a policy.

Our demand, right now, should be to abandon Brexit in its entirety, since it has already been proven to be against the interests of jobs, the economy, British influence, and even the stability of the British state.

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