- Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:04 pm
If I've understood it correctly, Labour's policy on Brexit/the EU is now that it is committed to a referendum with the option to Remain on the ballot paper, in all circumstances.
This includes a circumstance that entails Labour having attempted to secure a new Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, and then possibly - possibly, mind - having secured it, putting that on the referendum ballot paper as the alternative choice to Remain.
The complicated bit is that Labour seemingly plans to decide whether to campaign for the deal that it negotiates, or to campaign to remain - on the basis of an assessment of whether the deal it has obtained is as good as the deal we'd still have if we opted to remain in the EU. It might also give licence to members of the government and MPs to campaign for Remain or for Leave as they saw fit, as Wilson did in 1975.
What's wrong with this ?
Well, on one level, as Steve Richards says, it's not that different from what other referendum advocating parties are offering - there needs to be a defined alternative to Remain on the ballot paper, and if it isn't to be May's rejected deal, it may as well be Labour's version of adeal, presented on the basis of "well, here's the best exit deal that can be obtained - do you want it, or do we stick with the very much better deal we already have as members of the EU?"
The Lib Dems are simply promising a new referendum and are committing unambiguously to a vote to Remain.
But there is the main problem - the Lib Dem policy is much simpler, straight-forward, and easy to understand.
Beyond that, the aiming to negotiate a Labour withdrawal agreement bit is
a. Just un-necessary.
b. Probably impossible. Just as Barnier and the EU have consistently told Johnson that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be re-negotiated, there is no reason to believe that that line would not hold with Labour in government.
So the policy, by promising to do something which as far as we know cannot be done (re-open negotiations on the WA) risks rejection by a great many Remain-inclined putative Labour voters at the election who are more attracted by the Lib Dems' clear-as-day approach.
Labour could profitably decide to drop the aspiration to negotiate its own Withdrawal agreement in favour of a simple policy to initiate a new referendum at which it will campaign to Remain. To answer the critics saying that Labour is turning its back on 2016 Leave voters in advocating Remain in a new referendum, the emphasis needs to be on the fact that voters are being given another say, not being denied one.
The worry is that Milne/McCluskey/Murphy axis will not allow it, and that McCluskey could fuck things up even more at the Clause V meeting.
"The opportunity to serve our country. That is all we ask." John Smith, Leader of the Labour Party, 10 May 1994.