This article was written in response to David Allen Green who, is surely one of the most interesting commentators on Brexit, certainly a lot better than those employed by the Daily Express.
Labour will (eventually) oppose Brexit for the three very good reasons that (1) it only supported it in the first place due to internal “difficulties”, (2) sentiment in the country has moved against Brexit and (3) there are few people in the EU who think it is a good idea.
First, the reason that Labour did support Brexit in the first place (and is still in transition away from that position) was the fear in much of the PLP before the June 2017 election that the “working class” would defect to UKiP, primarily over the immigration issue. I never believed this and although many political commentators followed this line their judgement has been poor. Jeremy Corbyn’s position was weak, he wasn’t really in control of the party and the 49 PLP MPs were predicting electoral disaster. The electoral disaster did not materialise and Labour would probably have won the election if all the PLP had pulled their weight. Now that JC’s position is stronger he is less at the mercy of the dissident PLP and after the Conference his position will be stronger still. Around two-thirds of the members of the Labour Party, probably more now since the influx of younger members, oppose Brexit. The xenophobes and racists read the Telegraph, Daily Express and vote Conservative.
Second, although I don’t believe polls, I have every confidence that another referendum now would produce a majority against Brexit. Referenda are actually a stupid idea. I am not proposing a second one, or a third one (best of 3?) Brexit is just taking too much of our national bandwidth – we have many problems in the UK that need attention and the longer we head in the Brexit direction the more damage will be done to our economy. The “will of the people” argument is constitutionally incorrect and one that no-one really believes. It is Parliament’s job to make decisions and two-thirds of MPs oppose Brexit and although it is difficult at times, we have to trust our MPs (collectively).
Reversing Brexit is easy to do because it hasn’t yet happened. There is far too much focus on economic issues. We are Europeans – the last time Britain left Europe was in 1940 (Dunkirk) and the whole reason for the EU was to avoid the wars that have ravaged the continent for the past few hundred years. Apart from the Balkans, we have managed to avoid conflict for 70 years. That was the reason that persuaded me to vote Remain – my thinking was captured contemporaneously. Few people in Europe want us to leave. Europeans want Britain to stay in the EU. I can imagine that Jeremy Corbyn had a word with Michel Barnier at his recent meeting, quietly explaining that this Brexit business is not a good idea for either the UK or the EU and that when he gets in power he will reverse it. A huge sigh of relief all around.
The road to Brexit has already caused damage to be done. Financial companies are looking to move operations to Paris, Frankfurt, or Dublin and industries with complex supply chains (e.g. automotive) are aghast at the implications. The sooner the reversal starts, the better. That will need an election which, with the (foolish) Fixed-Term Parliament Act needs a number of Conservative MPs to vote for the good of the country rather than their own interests.
Politically, Labour is enjoying watching the Conservative Party implode over Brexit. At some point we shall reach the “Cavaliers and Roundheads” stage (written 28-Jun-2016 – 5 days after the Referendum). The last paragraph applies equally to this post.
Fans of H2G2 will also recognise the use of the “it will become true” tense. (In H2G2 the linguistic constructs of different languages found in the Galaxy are discussed. One especially advanced race uses a tense that approximates to “it will become true” where “will” has to be interpreted in different ways e.g. “may”, “possibly”, “if certain events happen”, “over my dead body”, “when you pay for it” etc.)