Samir’s Selection 07/26/2017 (p.m.)
The fallacy of Labour’s hard stand on Brexit
In other circumstances, the Labour party’s inconsistencies over Europe would not matter. Jeremy Corbyn’s party is in opposition against a government with a slender working majority. But Brexit is the generation-defining schism that cuts through Theresa May’s Conservatives and has divided the country. Labour’s European policy therefore deserves scrutiny — and the sharper the light, the more troubling the conclusion.
In June’s general election, Mr Corbyn’s manifesto was an exercise in ambiguity. It promised a withdrawal from the EU that would “prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards”. In an effort to appeal to metropolitan and provincial voters, Labour avoided an explicit commitment to keeping the UK in the single market or customs union. Many pro-EU voters might have assumed, wrongly, that the party favoured a softer approach than the Tories.
That ambiguity has been consigned to the dustbin of history. In an interview last weekend, Mr Corbyn declared that Britain would leave the single marketunder a Labour government. It has also adopted the same hard line on the customs union: Barry Gardiner, the party’s international trade spokesperson, has confirmed it would exit that too. On the fundamental question of what Brexit means in practice, there is next to no difference between the approach of Mr Corbyn and Mrs May…
With moderate Tory voices hunting for allies to buttress the case for a softer Brexit, a responsible Labour position could have a profound influence on negotiations. Those who realise this should speak up and not follow Mr Corbyn down a deeply wrong-headed path.
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