Posts Tagged ‘EU referendum’

Time to get over Brexit and move on to the next debates

08/04/2017, 04:17:02 PM

by Samuel Dale

Stop it. Just stop it.

I voted to remain in the EU. I wanted us to stay in as much as anyone and still believe it is a major mistake that the UK will come to regret.

But I was on the losing side. Remain lost in a clean, fair fight where robust and dodgy arguments and statistics were deployed on both sides.

The vote was close but clear. The Leave campaign won by more than half a million votes and that means Brexit must happen.

These seem like the most basic, simplistic points imaginable but some in Labour and the wider Left are still refusing to accept the result.

Tony Blair has suggested a second referendum on the final deal. Alastair Campbell has repeatedly called for Brexit to be stopped. Labour-supporting lawyer Joylon Maugham says the legal process for reversing Article 50 is sound.

And then there is Professor AC Grayling, who appears to have lost his mind. Even Professor Richard Dawkins, the high priest of rationality, says Brits have not spoken on Brexit (when they quite clearly have).

These are all people I respect but here is the truth: You can deploy whatever clever, legalistic shenanigans you like but there is zero chance that Britain will remain in the EU. Absolutely, stone cold zero.

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How to fight hard Brexit: Step 1 – Understand why Remain lost. Spoiler: It’s not what Westminster thinks

28/12/2016, 11:04:18 AM

In a series of three pieces, Atul Hatwal sets out how hard Brexit can be fought in the coming years. Today he looks at why Remain lost and the implications for the battle to shape Brexit

Why did Remain lose? Since the referendum Brexiteers have been assiduous in asserting their narrative: immigration trumped the economy, emotion won over facts and these are the new rules of the political game.

The Brexiteer version of history is now the accepted consensus at Westminster, virtually unchallenged by pro-Europeans, often meekly accepted.

The state of the pro-EU camp feels very familiar, certainly to a Labour member. All very mid-1992 when following a fourth electoral defeat, the best that many senior leaders of the party had to offer by way of strategy was “one more heave.”

It wasn’t good enough then, it isn’t now.

The starting point for pro-Europeans is to ask the right question.

Not just why Leave won but why a Remain campaign built around familiar economic beats failed when the same backing track had proved so persuasive at the general election and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

At the election and referendum, campaigns targeting concerns about the economy had convincingly defeated Scottish nationalism in 2014 and crushed Ukip’s English anti-migrant nationalism in 2015.

The conventional wisdom is that immigration was more potent as an issue in 2016.

Fortunately for those who want to prevent a hard Brexit, this is wrong.

The British Election Study (BES), which surveyed a huge panel of 30,000 voters before and after the referendum, sheds some light on what actually happened.

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Umunna, Reeves et al are wrong on free movement. Its bad politics and worse economics

22/09/2016, 10:18:57 PM

by Sam Fowles

For Rachel Reeves, immigration from the EU has caused a “slight drag” on wages. So Labour best represents the working poor by calling for an end to free movement. This is both simplistic and wrong. It represents only the loosest grasp of political strategy and no grasp of economics at all.

Labour will never win the fight to be “tough on immigration”. If voters want to kick out immigrants, they’ll vote for the parties that have been dog whistling about immigration for years. No one buys the cheap knock off when they can get the real thing for the same price.  Labour must address the real causes of the low wage crisis. This strategy has two advantages: It targets voters that might actually vote Labour, and it’s not economically illiterate.

The overall impact of immigration on wages is generally positive. By contributing more in taxes than they take out, EU immigrants ease financial pressures in the public sector. Immigration can create downward pressure on the wages of low-skilled workers. But this is negligible. Reeves relies on a study that found a 10% increase in immigration creates a 1.8% drag on low-skilled wages. To put that in perspective: the largest increase in immigration since 2006 has been around 7%. This works out as costing low skilled workers 1p per hour.

But immigration is equally likely to have a positive effect on low-skilled wages. Migration increases demand: The more people in an economy, the more goods and services they need: The more goods and services required, the greater the demand for labour to provide them: The greater the demand for labour, the more employers are prepared to pay for it.

But this hasn’t happened in the UK: Why?

Because successive governments have chosen policies that drive down wages.

Austerity (more…)

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When does the autopsy on the Remain campaign begin?

21/09/2016, 08:06:07 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Three months after the Remain campaign crashed to defeat, there is ne’er a squeak in British politics about what went wrong.

This is strange. Surely an autopsy on a losing campaign is entirely logical and much needed?

Where did the high hopes and expectations of Remainers come unstuck? When was the moment the voting public decided they wanted to jump the other way?

There’s lots of analysis about the effects of Brexit (with the Fabians weighing in just this week), but nothing about the campaign itself.

Perhaps the absence of any hint of organised reflection and public analysis is explained by the reaction of many hard-core Remainers.

They refuse to come out of the jungle and accept the war is over. Denialism is rampant.

They want to play on after the allotted 90 minutes. To continue boxing for a 13th round. Any excuse to avoid the glaring conclusion: they lost.

‘Ah but Leave promised to spend £350 million more on the NHS, that’s why they won.’

Their lies were better than our lies.

‘There should be a second referendum’.

Best out of three?

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If Labour MPs want to make ending free movement a Brexit red line, they’d better be ready to leave the single market

20/09/2016, 10:35:24 PM

by Atul Hatwal

One of the reasons the Labour party is in such a terrible state is that the many of moderate mainstream, those meant to offer an alternative to Corbyn, are so bad at the basics in politics.

Yesterday’s foray into the debate on freedom of movement by Rachel Reeves, Emma Reynolds and Stephen Kinnock, was a case study in ineptitude.

By arguing that ending free movement to reduce migration should be a red line in Brexit negotiations, they have constructed an argument that will not survive first contact with a journalist and set a broader public expectation which can never be met.

The obvious immediate question which journalists will ask these MPs is whether they are prepared to leave the single market?

If the central European states such Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, western European states such as France and EU President Juncker stick to their public position of vetoing any reform, are these MPs prepared for hard Brexit?

Will they back a version of leaving the EU that would see the flight of financial services from the City of London, the movement of major manufacturers like the Japanese car makers to the continent, the imposition of a hard border between northern and southern in Ireland and condemn tens of thousands of their constituents to the dole?

Seriously?

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It is time to stand for centre left values

14/07/2016, 04:04:31 PM

by Jonathan Todd

The responsibilities of moderate Labour are so much bigger than mere party tribalism. They are to our country, our consciences and – in the face of ISIS, Putin and Trump – our civilisation.

My conscience would happily rest with the end of Labour if it helped save our country and civilisation. “Histrionic” is a word that has been thrown about lately. And maybe I’m being so.

Perhaps not, though. I believe the UK is going through its biggest crisis of my lifetime. We are a country fracturing on every axis. Our incoming prime minister has proved herself only to be less of a shambles than Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom. An unexacting bar.

Theresa May, regrettably, is not up to the challenges of her office. Which include acting to preserve the institution that has helped bring Europe its longest period of peace and prosperity, while also exiting it in a way that does least harm to our economy and society. And I focus on harm minimisation because, kids and grandparents (for it is the baby boomers who must eat their young), we’ve been sold a pup by unaccountable, fly-by-night charlatans.

People are angry now but they’ll be more so when they find no economic nirvana awaiting. Some take out their frustrations on immigrants – who the prime minister, pawns to her as gunboats were to Palmerston, struggles to reassure.

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Theresa May is eminently beatable. Labour just need a leader up to the job

12/07/2016, 10:43:11 AM

by Atul Hatwal

The ascension of a new party leader is usually a time for rushed, breathless hagiographies and fears among opponents, within and without their party, that a new tide will sweep away their forces.

Allow me to demur.

Theresa May has demonstrated many qualities to become prime minister designate, but her position is far from imperious.

For those of us around in Westminster in the 1990s, there are some recognisable contours to the new political landscape that now confronts Labour, following the tsunami of the past three weeks.

A major economic event fundamentally that changes the narrative on who can be trusted on the economy. Personal enmities and ideological divisions spilling into public view across the Conservative party. A Tory leader facing the prospect of recession while trying to protect a small parliamentary majority.

It all feels rather familiar.

In the 1990s, the starting point was Black Wednesday. In the mid-2010s, it’s Brexit.

In 1992, Sterling’s exit from the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) re-defined the Tories’ image of economic competence. Whatever the rights and wrongs of leaving the ERM, it became the prism through which the ongoing recession was reported.

In the process, the Conservatives became associated with a deadly combination of economic incompetence and pain.

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Labour’s leadership plotting is going to end in tears

11/07/2016, 08:50:08 PM

by Trevor Fisher

Last autumn the Labour leadership issues seemed possible to discuss objectively, with a possible clean up of a deeply confused rule book. Perhaps even a sensible mid-term election could be devised while the Fixed Term Parliament Act was in force, a mid term election being discussed in passing during the summer leadership debates. This is no longer possible and even before a rumoured leadership plot is launched, the situation is becoming more confused and dangerously fraught.

The context of what Kevin Meagher rightly described as a ‘putsch‘ is internal disputes in the Whitehall bubble, mirroring tensions over Labour’s direction. There has been little to justify a leadership challenge despite the EU referendum dispute, and as Kevin Meagher pointed out, “The risk is that the current putsch plays straight into the hands of the Corbynites and inflicts lasting, long term damage on the party”. This is clearly true and while I suspect a general election in the autumn is unlikely for Theresa May, if one was called leadership dispute would seriously damage Labour.

However the immediate issues are two-fold, and centre on the nature of the putsch.

The first issue is whether they plotters can keep Corbyn off the ballot paper. If the rules are used to prevent enough supporters to nominate Corbyn, I cannot see how a legal challenge is unavoidable. He is the elected Labour leader. Whether he can be excluded is open to legal challenge but if successfully excluded, this has the effect of making the leadership a PLP matter. The membership is merely rubber stamping the PLP decision.

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Labour needs to take a step back and be clear about our post-Brexit agenda

09/07/2016, 07:15:18 PM

by Tom Clements

It is impossible to overstate the position that our country and our party faces after the most tumultuous of weeks in British politics.

Like so many of us, I have been completely blindsided both by the result of the referendum and the rapidity of the changing news cycle. It would be too easy to continue our Brexit hangover and concentrate purely on the machinations of Labour’s impending leadership contest or shudder at the thought of Andrea Leadsom as our next Prime Minister.

But now it’s time to take a step back.

The people of Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Whilst I believed passionately in the need for Britain to stay in the European Union, I don’t believe that we should dispute the result. The people of Britain made a choice and we should accept it. To fail to do so would reinforce every negative stereotype about politics and politicians.

Economic collapse, our union breaking apart, racial tension, punitive immigration, the most right-wing Conservative Party leader in a generation. The potential negative consequences of leaving the European Union don’t bare thinking about.

So it’s time for us to step up.

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Labour is in meltdown

07/07/2016, 08:40:09 PM

by Rob Marchant

“The Labour Party is facing its most serious crisis in its century-long history,” writes Eric Shaw, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Stirling. He’s not wrong.

First of all, since my last Uncut column, it is no exaggeration to say that British politics has been turned upside down by the win of Leave in the Brexit referendum. Barring some kind of monumental U-turn, Britain is on its way out of the EU. In the resulting whirlwind, it is difficult to keep pace with the rapidly-changing landscape.

Aside from the immediate and dire economic fallout from the decision itself, to have a PM resign, mass Shadow Cabinet resignations and a Leader of the Opposition deserted by the vast majority of his MPs in a confidence vote – all in the same week – is surely unprecedented.

Most bizarrely of all, while millions of Leave voters are apparently now regretting their decision, barely any of the winning Leave campaign politicians are now placed for much of a role in carrying out Britain’s transition to its post-EU future. Neither does there appear to be even a sketchy plan. It is as if neither the campaign’s leaders, nor its followers, ever really expected to win.

But this is Labour Uncut: let us now turn to the impact of all this on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Corbyn has blamed by many, not unfairly, for the contribution of his lacklustre campaign to Remain’s defeat. But it has also been a convenient moment to mount a challenge to what has so far been a disastrous leadership anyway, at least in terms of engaging with the British electorate.

Hence the mass resignations from the Shadow government – plus the sacking of Hilary Benn for perceived disloyalty – which followed a few days after the vote. But things have not stopped there: it is still thought likely that one of Angela Eagle MP or Owen Smith MP will challenge Corbyn, though the smoke signals from the PLP aren’t exactly clear.

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