Starmer is right: Only Labour can stop a blank cheque Brexit

by David Ward

At times it felt like we’d completely bypassed the election and gone straight into the leadership contest. Jenny Chapman introduced Keir Starmer as “clear, articulate, and strong” and one of the “bravest, most sincere, people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with”.

Yet with the inescapable reality of the stopped clock on the adjacent wall telling the right time twice a day, Starmer had to bring us back into the present and tell us what Labour’s policy on Brexit would be.

For an election speech there was quite a bit of policy in there. Guarantee the rights of EU nationals, an end to free movement, a laser focus on jobs and the economy in negotiations. Although it isn’t clear how Labour would “retain the benefits” of the single market and customs union.

But the specifics were less important than the narrative. If this election is about who runs Brexit, Starmer’s message is voting labour is the only way to keep May honest.

This is surely right. Because there are reasons to be concerned about giving the PM such a free hand regardless of whether you supported Leave or Remain.

A huge majority for May simply allows her free rein to strike almost any agreement, impervious to criticism.

For example many leavers, including Labour voters, were motivated by concerns about immigration last summer. Yet already Theresa May has suggested free movement could continue after Britain leaves the EU.

Others watch with horror as the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary blithely dismiss the lockdown of channel ports or 40% tariffs on foods which could result from leaving with no deal.

The nuclear industry worries about our impending exit from Euratom, while Priti Patel describes worker’s rights as “burdens”.

All the result of an ideological approach which has “led her down a slippery slope”, according to Starmer.

The Government has had to be led kicking and screaming into allowing parliament any kind of input on what Brexit could mean, and still refuses to guarantee our democratic chamber a meaningful vote on the outcome of negotiations.

As Starmer said today, “strong leaders welcome accountability.” Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the kind of leadership we have.

You wouldn’t allow your estate agent to sell your house and buy you a new one without consulting you on how much to sell for, or where you’re moving to. Yet this is exactly what messrs May, Fox & Davis are asking us to do.

Theresa May tells us that a large majority for her to take into negotiations is in the national interest. The reality is it is in no one’s interest.

And in most marginal constituencies the only way to thwart a majority that gives the PM a free hand to ignore people’s concerns will be to return a Labour MP. So regardless of differences we may have with the current Labour leadership on other issues we should be clear. A vote for Labour is the only vote for the national interest.

David Ward is a Labour campaigner in south London

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8 Responses to “Starmer is right: Only Labour can stop a blank cheque Brexit”

  1. John P Reid says:

    Confused, at first Blair saying, sort of vote for pro remain candidates in labour leavers areas, the. The idea that the 38% of labour voters who voted leave,should be told labour can stop Brexit
    Is going to encourage them to vote labour in what way exactly

    Sam tarry the only one of the 24 labour candidates in Jon Cruddas Dagenham constituency who voted remain, is up for Alan Johnsons seat,alongside Michelle Dawbs from the apprentice a local lass, who voted leave, Dagenham is going to unfortunately see,some labour councillors lose their seats next year, yet we’re still talking about brexit

  2. Ian says:

    These would be the same Labour MPs that merrily voted hard Brexit through just a few weeks ago? Right. No thanks.

  3. james says:

    `For example many leavers, including Labour voters, were motivated by concerns about immigration last summer. Yet already Theresa May has suggested free movement could continue after Britain leaves the EU.`

    I have a lot more faith that she understands that controling our borders means having a democratic transparent and involved national debate about this and what it means for those at the bottom than I do Jeremy Corbyn who isn’t really interested in containing migration.

    He will be beholden to his Islington very pro-remain constituents. The main issue is a clash of mindsets – between a Remain one that prioritises a Eurocentric view that prioritises the EU and a Leave one that believes change can happen.

  4. Tafia says:

    Starmer spoke absolute rubbish and the press had a field day ridiculing his speech and Labour’s Brexit position.

    One of the more simple contradictions was that Labour would end Freedom of Movement but negotiate to stay in the Single Market – you can’t. As was pointed out repeatedly, if you want to end FoM then you are automatically out of the SM. No if’s no buts – and as another pointed out, what would happen if Labour couldn’t negotiate to stay in the SM? Would they then abandon the peldge to end FoM/

    Starmer quickly became recognised for what he is – not particulalrly bright.

    It was all sixs and sevens and very quickly shot to pieces as little more than ill thought out rhetoric.

    Labour are either in favour of leaving the EU (which includes leaving the Single Market) or they aren’t. There is no middle way.

  5. Anne says:

    I agree with this article. Kier Starmer is by far the best negotiator.
    I really do not understand the publics love affair with Teresa May – Poor negotiating skills – authoritian in style. Willing to walk away from the EU with no deal – leaving the country is chaos with exports with 40 per cent tariffs. The country flooded with imports because of the weak pound (e.g. New Zealand lamb).Planning to sack members of her cabinet who do not agree with her – Justin Greening quite rightly does not agree with grammar school. Not sorted out crisis in NHS or social care. Will not guarantee triple lock on pensions and according to Janet Street Porter writing in the I will immediately increase state pension age to 68 years and means testing state pensions, but the real thing I really dislike about Tories is their arrogance and snobbery. Really not fitting behaviour for a Vicor’s daughter.

  6. uglyfatbloke says:

    Win’t be as strong an opposition as it might be since Scottish Labour will be helping get Tories elected in SNP marginals.

  7. Vern says:

    In simple terms who would I rather see negotiating on our behalf over the EU. Whether you like it or not one of the guys was Mayor of London and recognised around the globe. He will fight to defend British interests. This Starmer fella you talk of is barely known outside of his immediate family, is not Pro British and will be seen as a push over by his European counterparts.

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