Brexit takes a low priority in Labour’s general election manifesto, as does Remain. That will be a disappointment to Labour Remainers, who represent a significant majority of the party’s members and voters.
Labour’s policy on Brexit is just three pages long and nestled deep in their manifesto on page 88.
That probably tells us as much as we need to know about how important Brexit is to Labour’s leaders – despite the fact that this snap general election was only called because of Parliament’s stalemate on Brexit.
But there is worse.
Labour’s manifesto panders to Labour Leavers – a minority – and has nothing good to say about Remaining in the EU.
Labour promises to “secure a new Brexit deal” with the EU.
“One that protects jobs, rights and the environment, avoids a hard border in Northern Ireland and protects the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.”
This wonderful, sensible, credible version of Brexit will provide:
“..legal protection for citizens’ rights, meets our international obligations – particularly with regard to the Good Friday Agreement – and ensures an appropriate transition period to allow businesses and citizens to adapt to any new arrangements.”
And what’s more, Labour’s version of Leave will also:
“..secure robust and legally binding protections for workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections, and ensure level-playingfield protections are maintained. Labour will never accept an outcome that puts rights and standards at risk.”
“Once we have secured this new deal we will put it to a legally binding referendum alongside the option of remaining in the EU.”
And the bottom line?
“Only Labour will offer the choice of remaining in the EU, or leaving with a sensible deal.”
So, it’s a choice between “remaining” or having a “sensible deal”.
Surely, there must be something good said in the Labour manifesto about the British people choosing to reject their “sensible” Brexit and opting instead to Remain in the EU?
Nope. I cannot find it anywhere. Quite the opposite.
The Labour manifesto almost dares people not to vote for Remain in their “legally binding” referendum, held sometime next summer (at the earliest).
The manifesto states:
“If in a referendum the British people decide to remain in the EU, this must not mean accepting the status quo.”
No, of course not. The authors of this Labour manifesto clearly don’t think much of the idea of the UK remaining in the EU, compared to the wonderful, beautiful, sensible, Brexit that Labour will offer instead.
If, heaven forbid, Britain does vote to Remain, then please be warned:
“The EU needs a new political direction and, if the people decide the UK should remain in the EU, Labour will lead the way to ensure that change.”
The manifesto continues with what’s wrong with the Remain option:
“For too long a politically inflicted wave of austerity has damaged communities across Britain and across Europe.
“The most vulnerable members in our society have suffered, while the super-rich continue to be rewarded by a system that allows them to thrive at the expense of the many.
“This must change. If the country decides to remain, a Labour government will take a different approach and strive to ensure that the EU works for people across our communities.”
Anyone reading this section of the manifesto cannot be in any doubt that Labour’s leadership thinks that Remain is not the way forward for Britain, and it’s the fault of the EU that we have austerity. (An entirely wrong analysis in my view).
A Labour government, clearly in my view, would urge the country instead to vote for their ‘sensible, credible Brexit.’
Yes, yes. Compared to the Tories, Labour offers the only way out of the Brexit mess. But any Remainer like me is going to feel deep disappointment and resentment by Labour’s policy on Brexit.
The party’s policy is aimed to appeal to Leavers, not Remainers, even though Labour is naturally made up of Remain supporters.
So, to me, none of this makes any sense.
But that has to be combined with the rest of Labour’s manifesto – the most radical we’ve known.
Of course, Britain needs radical change, but the plans Labour is now putting forward – many of them announced at the last minute without any pre-warning – are not going to win an election.
The proposals Labour is now proposing should have taken years in the planning, and years in the explaining and selling to the nation. Not three weeks before a vote.
The country at large would need to have such big plans sold to them carefully and convincingly over a long period of time, not over 21 days.
Labour’s hugely ambitious plans – probably too ambitious – would take at least three to four terms to achieve, even if they are achievable at all (and the costs involved are eye watering, with many respectable economists saying they are just not credible).
Yet by cramming everything into one manifesto, Labour will scare aware millions of moderate voters who are needed if Labour is to have any chance of winning.
In my view, far better for Labour to offer the nation a softer approach to change, with a better chance of winning power, than to present a manifesto so shockingly extreme that Labour is now likely to spend many more years in opposition.
Me writing this doesn’t make it true. I can’t affect the outcome. I am just expressing my view. So, if I am wrong when the results are announced on 13 December, I will eat my words, apologise, and admit I misjudged.
Come back after the general election and we will discuss it more then.
But I can tell you now: Labour’s ‘credible Brexit’ is not credible at all, and if they go ahead and implement any version of Brexit, Britain will be poorer, and there is no way that Labour would be able to fulfil even a small fraction of their remarkably radical plans.
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