Put your legs away Jeremy and come up with a convincing Brexit policy

by Kevin Meagher

I shudder to imagine what Jeremy Corbyn’s pins look like – pale and scrawny, if I’m pushed to conjure up a mental picture.

He must think they look alright though. Patrick Maguire over at the New Statesman quotes a DUP source saying the Labour Leader is “showing a bit of leg” in a bid to woo the DUP and its ten MPs, ahead of a make-or-break week for Theresa May.

Yesterday Corbyn told Sky News the DUP opposed the Northern Ireland backstop for “very good and sensible reasons.” He said Labour was ready to “step in and negotiate seriously with the EU to put up a serious alternative which is a proper customs union – a customs union – with the EU in which we have a say in what goes on”.

Things are clearly getting weird in Westminster, but this is off the charts strange.

Corbyn is, we are frequently reminded by his detractors, a lifelong Irish republican. Suddenly, however, the political troglodytes of the DUP are people of honour whose barmpot politics are “good” and “sensible.”

So what’s he playing at?

It seems this courtship ritual is a crude attempt to drive a wedge between Theresa May and her erstwhile unionist allies. Fair enough, opposition parties are meant to oppose and all that.

But there’s no pathway to Number Ten that involves him courting the DUP. Neither are they crazy enough to assume ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ in the frenetic calculus of who wants what over Brexit.

They’re on the rebound, granted, but they’re not desperate enough to put Sinn Fein allies like Corbyn and McDonnell in government. No, Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster leader, is still trying to catch Theresa’s eye.

They will vote against her deal, but they won’t vote to collapse her government.

As a result, Corbyn is all tactics and no strategy over Brexit.

Labour’s position is hopelessly messed up. Manifesto-bound to facilitate the decision of the people in the referendum, most Labour MPs simply want to ignore it.

A lifelong Eurosceptic, Corbyn he would rather we were out, but knows it will rupture the careful truce on the backbenches. (That said, he’s just been peddling the 1970s’ ‘it’s-all-a-neoliberal-conspiracy’ stuff at a meeting of European socialists).

Neither does he want to concede a second referendum (Len McCloskey was pouring cold water on that idea earlier this week).

So Corbyn needs to keep selling the illusion that either a general election is imminent.

However, (and given it’s a seasonal metaphor) turkeys won’t vote for Christmas. Tory MPs are not going to fight an election – the third – on the disadvantageous old boundaries. Plus, the loss of a confidence vote this week and the fall of her government would leave Theresa May in situ as Tory leader. 2017 redux?

But might Jeremy be thinking that, in some fantastical, mind-blowing scenario, he ends up leading a minority government after Theresa May’s deal is voted down on Tuesday?

He seemed to be saying so in his Sky interview:

Mr Corbyn said he is ready to “step in” without an election “straight away” by forming a minority government, if, as expected, the current government loses the meaningful vote on its Brexit agreement on Tuesday, which he said was a “matter of confidence”.

Corbyn at the head of a minority hard left Labour government, propped up by the DUP, seriously? It would certainly be a sight to behold. But an ice cream on a hot day would last longer.

Ultimately, this is all displacement activity. Labour still needs a credible position on Brexit, with a second referendum on Theresa May’s deal, the most logical position to hold, with the largest amount of buy-in from across the party.

What this strange little episode shows us, though, is that Jeremy Corbyn is just another pragmatic, scheming politician.

Progress, of sorts.

Kevin Meagher is the associate editor of Uncut

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10 Responses to “Put your legs away Jeremy and come up with a convincing Brexit policy”

  1. Alf says:

    “I shudder to imagine what Jeremy Corbyn’s pins look like – pale and scrawny, if I’m pushed to conjure up a mental picture.”

    Ooooooh. Get her!

  2. Bill11 says:

    Hasn’t Corbyn gone yet?

  3. Anne says:

    The DUP are against Teresa May’s deal but they are a party very much influenced by history – they will never support Corbyn. Interesting, many of their voting members are wanting to accept May’s deal – also Northern Ireland did vote to remain in the E.U.- influenced more by the economy than religion.
    Labour has much more in common with the SNP, but the SNP will want a pay back for support, which will be another crack at the independence referendum and second time round they will be much closer to a win. Brexit has much to answer for – along with making us poorer in more than one way.

  4. Tafia says:

    Anne, it hasnt made us poorer. The economy continues to grow, exports to the rest of the world continue to rise, foreign investment continues to increase and wages are now rising faster than inflation.

  5. Anne says:

    Surely the quote should be is Teresa May still here. No I don’t feel sorry for her – she has operated in her own little bubble. Also, Brexiteers have no shame – they have made our great country poorer in so many ways. Enough is enough – time for an election, or as the man from question time said ‘let the grown ups decide.’

  6. steve says:

    The Blairite dream of another referendum will never win a parliamentary vote.

    It would be utterly irresponsible for any government or MP to back a proposal that would be no more decisive than the first referendum but a lot more divisive.

    And if they did, the electorate would never forgive them.

  7. Anne says:

    This Brexit affaire is a total disgrace- this `Tory government has brought our country to its knees. I have never disliked a government as I do these Cabinet ministers or Tory government. A total disgrace. Please, please can we have a vote of no confidence in this government.

  8. Anne says:

    Calling this Tory government ‘stupid people’ is a light rebuke in my opinion and justified when Teresa May turns PM question time into a pantomime act. This is the women who gives the DUP 1 billion to support her government and is now spending another 2 billion of tax payer’s money in trying to get her deal passed while putting our troops on stand bye in case of a no deal. Really! My description is much harsher than ‘stupid’ A total disgrace.

  9. We really don’t need another scottish independence vote, so better to avoid any deal that needs SNP support.

  10. Tafia says:

    Anne, he didn’t say ‘stupid people’ – he said ‘stupid woman’, and seemingly there’s more than one around.

    PMQs is always a pantomime – it was brought in by Thatcher for public entertainment and little else. Nothing serious is ever done and it’s just a ritual piss-take and has been for forty years. Serious work isn’t done in the debating Chamber anyeway – it’s done in the Committee rooms.

    May didn’t give the DUP £1Bn – she gave the government of Northern Ireland £1Bn. There are strict rules ensuiring non-partisan spending programmes in Northern Ireland and I.m sure Sinn Fein would quite happily hand back the funding their projects have received from it and give you a big Xmas kiss in thanks – not.

    She isn’t sp[ending 2Bn trying to get here deal passed – quite the opposite. She’s spending 2Bn making preparations in case her deal doesn’t get passed.

    The troops on stand-by are logisticians and such like.

    Try and get something through your head for this coming New Year – there isn’t going to be another referendum. We are leaving the EU on 29 March either with May’s deal or with no deal. Responsible government prepares for both eventualities.

    Please try for this coming year to get what you post roughly correct and not the incoherent disjointed ramblings of some old woman who has been at the sherry. It is truly painful to read most of what you write. Painful and pitiful.

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