The moment to work to veto Brexit has come

by Trevor Fisher

Jon Todd’s article Ten thoughts for August raised big questions going beyond one month. It did not trigger an in depth debate, which raises the question whether blogging helps or hinders analytical discussion. But assuming for the moment that it does, here are some points about the immediate future – to the end of the year which is as far as is sensible to look in an age of rapid political surges.

Jon is probably right that an early general election is unlikely to happen but it is not impossible. As May is giving the dominant Brexit wing of her party everything it wants a new leader seeking a mandate is unlikely. The Tory website which could not see a successor – 34% voting none of the above and even David Davis failing to get 20% support shows that the Tories have no real alternative. However folly is folly, and the Tory Brexiteers are majoring in stupidity.

The option of a cliff edge No Deal politics is top of their agenda. If thwarted, May or a successor could call an election with a No Surrender on Brexit platform. Those like Stephen Kinnock, Heidi Alexander and Chuka Umunna who hope Tory Remainers would vote for a soft Brexit and defeat May ignore the political consequences. No Prime Minister could survive such a slap in the face. May certainly could not.

Because of this, there might be a snap election on Brexit. As it is possible that the government might fall Labour has to be prepared for an election at any time up to the moment of decision.  Corbyn told Michael Eavis at Glastonbury he expected to enter #10 in six months. This possibility means a choice has to be made, Corbyn Labour or Reactionary Conservative. It’s unavoidable, and the choice has to be Corbyn. There is no way a Tory government is preferable, as the bonfire of hard won rights through the so called Great Reform Bill will make clear.

Even though Corbyn is unsound on Brexit, and I don’t agree with Billy Bragg that Corbyn will eventually come to his senses and become an anti-Brexiteer, at least he might be forced into giving a third referendum. So while this is a possibility, backing Corbyn is essential. Corbyn in Number 10 is not a wonderful outcome for the end of 2017. But it is better than the alternatives. Factional attacks on Corbyn must cease while a general election is possible.

Brexit is the only show in town, and it is going badly for Remainers. Jon thinks cliff edge Brexit is only a possibility, and business will impose a Soft Brexit. Certainly on immigration, the British economy has to have migrant labour, but Marx was wrong. Business does not control the political agenda. EU migrants come in large numbers, as Nigel Lawson pointed out in the Sunday Times on 20th August. Leavers want ‘control of the borders’ to keep the foreigners out and poses a threat to those who are already here. The Daily Express of 17th August headline screamed “2.37m  migrants work in Britain” arguing 126,000 arrived in the year to March 2017.  Read the yellow press and ponder.

As David Cameron said, they are “Swivel Eyed Loons”. But they destroyed him. May knows what they can do to her. Soft Brexit, transitional deals and the like are not politically possible. And to change the situation, only a third referendum will do (the first was in 1975, and is never talked about. The Second was 2016. Best of three?). The only way to reverse a Referendum is with a Referendum.

However the battle would be vicious. With all major English and Welsh parties, including the Lib Dems (if they still count) accepting the legitimacy of the Second (2016) Referendum, opinion is changing. Even many Remainers now argue the decision has been made, and must be implemented – recent polls show 70% plus taking this position. Who dares wins, and Leave has never failed to set the agenda.

Jon argues rightly that this is an era of ‘painting in broad strokes”. We do indeed need to “know our truth and speak it.” Trump, Corbyn, Macron, Farage, none follow the discredited old ways. Temporising with transitional periods and other attempts at avoiding the issue (Philip Hammond, Keir Starmer)  are doomed to fail. With people as rational as the two ex-foreign Secretaries, David Miliband and William Hague arguing against Brexit and getting nowhere, broad brush is now the only option. The only alternative to Brexit is anti-Brexit. There is no middle way, so with the failure of the attempts to get one now being manifest, the moment of decision to work to veto Brexit has now arrived.

Trevor Fisher was a member of the Labour Coordinating Committee executive 1987-90 and secretary of the Labour Reform Group 1995- 2007. He was a member of the Compass Executive 2007-2009

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9 Responses to “The moment to work to veto Brexit has come”

  1. Tafia says:

    Just so you understand this weeks Labour position:-

    1. Labour accept we will cease to be members of the EU in March 2019 – there is no ambiguity about that.

    2. Transition deals are part of the exit negotiation process , which ends – deal or no deal, by March 2019.

    3. The government negotiate, not the opposition. Labour are not in power and this will all be over before they will get a chance to be. Even if the Great Repeal Bill is defeated and any deal rejected by Parliament we are still out in March 2019 deal or no deal. Even if Parliament rejects any deal we will still leave, with no deal. Parliament has already agreed to that and that is also the stated EU position.

    4. The EU itself is already ridiculing Labour’s new position.

    Really, it is looking ever more likely that the tories will stay in power until 2022 or thereabouts – they are the largest party and even if May resigns, the Tories still get to form a new government and the Queen will still ask a Tory to be PM. This is actually a very crude and very clumsy attempt at voter triangulation by Labour – promise Leave voters we are going (they stipulate and accept we will leave in March 2019), promise Remain voters there is stil a chance they could thwart it (if thy are dumb enough to swallow it). At the same time, wage war on the SNP, Plaid and the Lib Dems by attacking them vociferously and refusing to work with them at any level (no ‘consensus of the left’) and make the electorate believe that voting Labour is the only way to beat the Tories and voting for those parties actually helps the Tories. Labour will now regard those parties as just as much the enemy as the tories, because their soft vote is where they need to get the extra 3-4% they need for victory in 2022 (provided they hold what they already have, not forgetting that the right wing vote in the UK is over 50%).

  2. John P Reid says:

    Look just join the libdems, I’ve managed to get many ex libdems back to labour over the years,so it’s not as if you going is losing us votes

  3. LordBlagger says:

    The majority for leave was 384 MPs.

    It’s a parliamentary democracy.

    You lost. Time to take that on board.

  4. paul barker says:

    If I have understood this – we have to vote for Corbyn because he Might give us a 3rd Referendum & we Might win it. Of course Corbyn will wreck the Economy but thats a price worth paying.
    We have to vote for Corbyn because he Might change his mind later, after he becomes PM ?
    Is this the desperate state that Labour Centrists are reduced to ?

  5. Anne says:

    It appears that the current negotiations have not get off the first base with the EU rejecting proposals made by David Davis. If this current pace continues, negotiations will not be complete in the timeframe with a greater possibility of a poor outcome – or cliff edge. Hammond is suggesting a transition period to complete negotiations. Chucka is saying we should stay in the single market and customs union. Kier is saying this transition period could continue for a longer period to give business greater certainty. Some MPs are saying that if public opinion were to change then a third referendum might be on the cards. Meanwhile the pound continues to fall against other currencies – some economists say this is balancing of currencies. Immigration is falling from the EU with some firms unable to fill posts. My faith is still with Kier Starmer’s approach but sadly I agree that there will not be an early election unless something drastic happens.

  6. Vern says:

    Anne, you can have as much faith in Kier as you like. Labour are not in power so his views are irrelevant. Kier Starmer has zero credibility when it comes to negotiations on EU matters – the man was barely heard of until June this year.

  7. Tafia says:

    Chucka is saying we should stay in the single market and customs union. Kier is saying this transition period could continue for a longer period to give business greater certainty.
    Yes but they aren’t in government and play no part in negotiations. All they are spectators on the sidelines.

    There is a staggering lack of understanding going on by a lot of people. Us leaving and a leaving/transitional deal are two entirely different and separate processes. They are not connected and are not inter-dependent on each other. Leaving is entirely to do with Article 50, which has been authorised by Parliament and triggered in accordance with the EU rules and cannot be delayed unless the entire Council of Ministers agrees. It is not dependent on a deal and never has been – indeed it is excluded from such by the terms of Article 50 (which were automatically ratified and accepted by Parliament after Brown signed the Lisbon Treaties) Parliament having a vote on a deal – or even the UK having a referendum on a deal, do not affect Article 50 at all, it just carries on.

    We leave 29 March 2019 with or without a deal. Even if we negotiate a deal (which I doubt) and then Parliament rejects it we still leave. To reverse Article 50 is a nightmare and deliberately designed to be so. Barniers infamous ‘Red Lines’ – issued to him by the Council by diktat and non-negotiable include the terms for the withdrawal of Article 50 and there is no way the UK public would accept them. One is the committment to Article 49. Go and read Article 49. There are fervent Remainers on here who wouldn’t accept it.

    By the way, did anyone watch the press conference today? Barnier looks severely rattled. Possibly because a UK Civil Servant in the negotiations spent 3 hours destroying their claim to an exit fee and showing why – under EU law and the terms of the Lisbon Treaties, any such demand is actually illegal. And it’s slowly dawning on him that we are quite prepared to leave and revert to WTO if needs be.

  8. Tafia says:

    And as an afternote, from this afternoon’s press conference, British pensioners who have retired to other EU countries will continue to have their healthcare paid for by the NHS post-Brexit, after a deal in principle was agreed. In one of the few advances made in discussions about EU citizens’ future rights there has been agreement of reciprocal healthcare for British and EU retirees affected by Brexit. Other areas of agreement included protection for “frontier workers”, those who live in one EU member state and work in another. This would include people who live in the UK and commute to Europe, or Britons settled in one country, for example Germany, who commute to work in another, say Luxembourg. Also, professional qualifications would be recognised across the bloc after Brexit, allowing lawyers, doctors, accountants, seafarers, train drivers and others who have moved to or from the UK to another EU country to work under their existing credentials. There was also agreement to coordinate on social security post-Brexit.

  9. Tafia says:

    ICM asked about people’s attitudes towards Britain paying a financial settlement as part of our exit. 9% think a settlement of £40bn would be acceptable, 11% a £30bn settlement, 18% a £20bn settlement, 41% a £10bn settlement.

    Public opinion is clearly overwhelmingly against paying an exorbitant exit fee. (58% 20Bn or less, 70% £30Bn or less).

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