UNCUT: Forget a referendum re-run. But another Europe referendum with a different question is inevitable

28/06/2016, 10:00:51 PM

by Dan Cooke

At the time of writing there are over 3 million signatories. In coming days it will probably continue to climb. But however many people eventually sign the petition for a referendum re-run it can only be an exercise in frustrated misdirection. The Leave vote creates a new political reality which only a time machine could undo and no democrat can ignore.

Yet, as we search for a path forward, it will become increasingly clear that the public does have to be consulted again before Britain finalises its exit from the EU – and that another referendum to approve or reject the terms of exit is the right way to do so.  For Labour, even if it succeeds in electing a new leader, an explicit commitment to such a referendum in its manifesto for any snap election will probably be the only way it can build a national coalition of support. This means taking the position that Brexit is not inevitable because if exit terms are not approved the logical consequence is that Britain remains in the EU.

The key to understanding the referendum’s chaotic aftermath (and probably the result itself) is the false choice it presented between a known and unloved status quo and amorphous alternative that the Leave campaign skilfully preserved from any concrete definition. Only now is there beginning to be serious scrutiny of the real alternatives available, ranging from membership outside the EU of the European Economic Area or “EEA”, allowing Britain to preserve most Single Market rights, to a range of essentially theoretical alternatives that are only beginning to be sketched out.

Unsurprisingly, a dividing line is already beginning to crystallise around those (in both the Remain and Leave camps, and in all parties) who favour the EEA option and those who see it as inadequate.

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UNCUT: Corbyn must be beaten in a leadership contest. MPs can’t exclude him from the ballot

27/06/2016, 06:13:34 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The first stage of the PLP rebellion has been executed well. The scale and pace of the resignations have demonstrated the level of breach between the leader and his parliamentary troops.

Now comes the tricky bit.

Once the motion of no confidence in the leader has been passed – current predictions suggest 80%+ PLP backing – the MPs are primed to attempt something disastrous: to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot.

The mechanic will be MP nominations. Once the race is on, contenders need the backing of 35 MPs, a threshold Jeremy Corbyn could not hope to cross.

However, the rules are ambiguous as to whether he, as the incumbent, would need any nominations. Jolyon Maugham QC looked at the detail and, while no fan of Corbyn, concluded that he would be on the ballot automatically as leader. Legal firm, Doughty Street Chambers have come to the same view.

Apparently there is some contradictory advice with Iain McNicol, Labour party general secretary, but regardless of the legal he-said-she-saids, MPs should abandon this plan. It’s utterly mad.

Attempting a fix, so that the name Jeremy Corbyn isn’t an option on members’ ballots, is self-harming for two reasons.

First, the party in the country will tear itself apart.

Many MPs seem to have the insouciant attitude that the sole result will be several thousand Corbynistas leaving the party in a huff.

Wrong.

There will be full blown civil war across every level of the party.

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UNCUT: This referendum revealed just how far apart Labour’s elite and its base have become

27/06/2016, 12:29:58 PM

by Kevin Meagher

So now we know: 37 per cent of Labour supporters went to the polls to vote to leave the European Union.

Despite all but a handful of MPs, the active support of the trade unions, the pleas of every former leader of the party and Alan Johnson’s battlebus, more than a third of the party’s electoral base jumped at the chance to quit the EU.

Motives varied, but the loudest pained roar was clearly against the iniquities of mass migration, the single totemic issue that has fuelled the Leave campaign’s remarkable insurgency against the political and financial elite.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Remain was flattened by a steamroller. It chose to stand in the way of public opinion and got squashed by it. Does it still need pointing out that immigration is a somewhat vexing issue for the British public? Given the chance to do something about it, they did what they said they would do all along.

Nevertheless, the ramifications for the Labour party are now grave. The fissure between the party’s elite and its base, evident for at least a decade, will now grow wider.

The problem is more dangerous than a conventional left/right split. In fact, the assumptions of the Progress types and Corbynistas are remarkably similar: They both think uncontrolled immigration is acceptable and that it isn’t the role of government to do much to prevent it.

The problem is there aren’t enough coddled public sector workers and right-on middle class social liberals who agree with them.

Labour needs its blue collar working class base to stand any chance of ever governing again, but shows no understanding of what makes them tick.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to care what does.

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UNCUT: Britain must do better than a choice of Johnson or Corbyn for PM

26/06/2016, 09:58:49 PM

by George Kendall

Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. Is that an acceptable choice for Prime Minister?

Boris Johnson is a man who his former employers sacked as a liar, who has sold Brexit on the basis of a series of lies, yet he is the odds on favorite to lead the Tory party, and appears set to call a new General Election in the autumn.

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed he did all he could to avoid Brexit, but half his shadow cabinet appear to think otherwise and are resigning. One Labour campaign source claims the head of the Labour In campaign, Alan Johnson, asked for a meeting with Corbyn in April and was told the only available date would be July, after the Referendum.

Neither Johnson nor Corbyn are fit to be Prime Minister.

The country is in an unprecedented political, constitutional, economic and existential crisis. It may well break up.

The First Minister of Scotland is preparing for a second referendum to leave the Union, and Northern Ireland may do so as well. During the campaign, voters were assured this would not happen.

Those campaigning to Leave have now splintered into two camps, one for retaining trade agreements with our largest market, the other for ending them. Their campaign was based on a series of promises that they are both now disowning.

It would be a travesty if there were no viable candidate for Prime Minister who represented the values of the 48% who voted to Remain in the EU.

Once it becomes clear what leaving would involve, and if, as seems likely, the major promises made by Leave turn out to be false, it may be that the British people will want a further chance to express their view on this. If so, we should give them that opportunity.

If those who want a tolerant, outward looking and honest government are unable to prevent Johnson and Corbyn from being the leaders of Labour and the Conservatives this autumn, they need a viable alternative. What that choice is, depends on many things, but most of all, it depends on who is willing to put country before party.

Once we know the result of the Conservative leadership election, there may be an immediate general election, so we cannot afford to wait. If the 48% are to have the voice they deserve, we need to start organising now.

George Kendall is convener of the Social Democrat Group – a Liberal Democrat organisation to develop the social democrat tradition of the Liberal Democrats, and to build links with social democrats in the Labour party

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UNCUT: Brexit poses existential challenges for Labour, the UK and the EU

25/06/2016, 09:28:47 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour is over. The UK is over. The EU is over. For sake of something that Daniel Hannan now concedes won’t necessarily happen: a fall in immigration.

We have conspired to legitimise Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second Scottish referendum: a vote that seems likely to precipitate the UK’s breakup. Another vote in Northern Ireland may create a united Ireland around 100 years after partition.

While Jeremy Corbyn may be pleased by Ireland’s reunification, the breakup of the UK, closing off any Scottish Labour recovery within the union, reduces the prospect of Labour government. And this may not even be Labour’s biggest problem. Within England, the referendum exposed the perhaps unbridgeable divide between Labour’s liberal, metropolitan and socially conservative, provincial supporters.

The French cousins of that latter group dance to Marie Le Pen’s tune. The EU will muddle through Brexit but not Frexit, as President Le Pen threatens.

It is hard to believe that Boris Johnson – a Conservative and Unionist MP – intends the UK’s breakup; that Gisela Stuart wishes Labour to be so weakened; that the usually Whiggish Michael Gove wants the Europe that historian Sir Ian Kershaw sees opening up: “28 competing countries and in the hands of Le Pen, Orban, Kaczynski and the nationalists, a Europe breaking up.”

But that is where Johnson, Stuart and Gove – by acquiescing with the poison of Nigel Farage – have left us, which is unforgivable.

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UNCUT: The Norway model is Britain’s only hope

25/06/2016, 08:14:19 PM

by Ella Mason

I am bereaved.

The referendum result has knocked me for six. I have always been determinedly pro-Europe. So much so that my political friends mock me for being a rubbish Tory because of my love for the EU (alongside a couple of other lefty things).

I realised this morning that is because being British in Europe is a huge part of my identity and that has been torn apart overnight.

I saw Britain as part of a great project of cooperation. I thought we had found a way of maintaining peace through the imperative of economic collaboration.

I believe free markets are the best way to generate the wealth we need to lift up the poorest while creating amazing lives for ourselves. But I understand that a pure free market is a thing from a text book: it isn’t possible in reality.

The EU single market and all the regulation involved in creating and maintaining it was actually taking it and us toward that goal, not away from it as so many people would have you believe. The regulation involved was about homogenising the market to allow us to trade freely not about micromanaging our entrepreneurial flair.

I believe in free trade and with it freedom of movement across borders. Migration of the labour force is central to free trade. Any libertarian will tell you that. In fact, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will tell you that.

I agree with both of them about a lot of things economic which is why I cannot comprehend why they thought this was a good idea.

The only thing I can really think is that they didn’t actually think they could win. They saw it as a route to winning a Tory leadership election down the line in 2019; not as something that would actually happen and that they would subsequently have to manage now.

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UNCUT: Britain’s Brexit vote has redrawn the rules of British politics

24/06/2016, 04:22:03 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Everything is different.

It’s not just the enormity of Britain deciding to leave the EU that is momentous or the inevitable installation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson but the nature of the campaign which led to this decision that leaves the political landscape utterly transformed.

British politics used to obey a simple rule. It used to be the economy stupid.

No more.

This vote was a straight contest of priorities for the public between immigration and the economy.

The public made a clear decision.

Underpinning that choice might be some nuance.

The manner in which claims of dire economic consequence from Brexit were disregarded highlights just how bad many Britons regard their current lot.

For this group, the transmission belt that connects the macro-economic with the kitchen table is evidently broken.

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UNCUT: The Labour Eurosceptic case for Remain

23/06/2016, 11:41:40 AM

by Renie Anjeh

The blue-on-blue action, hyperbolic interventions, xenophobic dog-whistles, awkward alliances and uninformed celebrity endorsements are almost done.  It is all going to be over in a few hours. Yes, today is the day.  The day that we finally lance the boil.  It is the day that we give the European question a clear answer. Today is referendum day.

I suspect that Britain will vote to remain in the European Union but there will be long-term repercussions for our body politic whichever way the country votes.  A combination of hurt feelings, betrayed souls and damaged egos on the Conservative benches could bring forward David Cameron’s expiry date.

An ungovernable Conservative party could lead to the battle-scarred Prime Minister calling an early election.  The consequences for the Labour party are not exactly clear but they are definitely not good.  Part of the reason for this is because during this referendum there has been a revival of Labour Euroscepticism.

Although a minority of Labour politicians have endorsed Labour Leave, the pro-Brexit Labour group, they do speak for a significant proportion of Labour voters something which is a problem for the party leadership.  These voters are at odds with Europeanism and globalisation and will not obey the party’s quinoa-eating, metropolitan wing.  However, while there are perfectly reasonable left-wing reasons to be suspicious to be sceptical of the EU, backing Lexit is fundamentally flawed.

The main reason for this is because Lexit is not on the ballot paper.

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UNCUT: The geopolitical case against Brexit matters

22/06/2016, 03:08:43 PM

by Rob Marchant

The decision Britain will make tomorrow is clearly a big one. Perhaps truly the most significant of our lifetimes, in terms of its strategic direction of travel as a country and the way the 21st century will shape up for us.

A decision in favour of Brexit will inevitably have short-term impacts. Some of them, such as a potential drop in sterling for exporters, may even be positive. But some vital, long-term effects are likely to be about Britain’s place in the world; its geopolitical power, if you like.

These are difficult-to-gauge, but nevertheless important, effects which are largely drowned out in the current debate by the bread-and-butter arguments about trade or immigration. Or “sovereignty”, that largely meaningless word currently being flogged to death.

Which would be fine, if we lived in a world full of stability, free of threats. Or even such a Europe.

We do not.

It is a good time to remember, for example, that only a few hundred miles of Mediterranean separate Daesh forces from the southern shores of the EU. Or that its eastern fringe – the Baltic states – is currently subject to a very real threat of clandestine invasion by Russia, as has already happened in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Or even that the Americans and Russians are currently engaged in an increasingly threatening war of words over US presence in the Black Sea. And this is all in the context of a savage war in Syria, exacerbated by the meddling of Russia and its proxy, Iran, which has triggered the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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UNCUT: If we jump off the ledge on Thursday, we will fall hard

21/06/2016, 11:23:51 AM

by Joe Anderson

In 48 hours’ time we will take the biggest decision about our country’s future since we declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939.

Forget 1975. Back then the choice of staying in the (then) European Economic Community was a no-brainer, given we had barely been a member for three years.

This referendum on whether we stay in the EU or not is much more important and the impacts will be felt much more broadly.

We’re not declaring war on a country, but we are in danger of declaring war on the future.

If we decide to leave the European Union after 41 years as a key member, then we need to be prepared for what comes next.

It’s a grim future of neo-liberal economics, where we are buffeted about by global powers far larger and more powerful than us.

For Labour people, it means something else too. It will mean that the right wing of the Tory party has succeeded at last in its bid to get us out of Europe.

Margaret Thatcher will be jumping for joy from the afterlife at the prospect of Brexit.

Rights that have been hard-won will be easily lost. Social and environmental directives will be repealed, leaving workers, consumers and the environment at the hands of unbridled market forces.

Does anyone really think a Tory government will lift a finger to protect the working time directive when the deadbeat employers who want to sweat their workforces get into Number Ten and lobby Prime Minister Boris?

Of course they won’t.

What they call red tape, we call basic rights.

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