Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Brexit: better off with Labour?

Interesting isn't it? Not so very long ago we were all talking about the imminent demise of the Labour party and the unelectability of Corbyn. May has put him within four points of winning. If Lib Dems vote tactically then May is done. That's if you put any stock in the polls, which I don't.

I rather suspect people won't make up their minds until polling day when large numbers of us will probably decline to vote and it will be decided on the toss of a coin. With there being so little in it, this could mean either a substantial Tory win or a hung parliament. Whatever happens it will be by an accident of numbers rather than a clear expression of public will. May is obviously unfit to be prime minister and there is little to recommend Corbyn either.

What I will say is that Corbyn does seem to have found his stride and can at least speak with confidence and conviction - and has been unequivocal that a no-deal Brexit is not permissible. A deal is more likely under a Corbyn government and he will likely be better received by Brussels. The mood over the channel is that the Tories are needlessly confrontational, hopelessly under-informed, belligerent and arrogant. They are not wrong.

David Davis has a grotesquely cavalier attitude, has no real knowledge of the subject matter or the stakes of the game in play. That makes the Tories a bigger economic risk than Corbyn.

Ultimately this is not May vs Corbyn. This is Davis vs Starmer. Keir Starmer, Labour's Brexit spokesman is a realist who is prioritising single market access over immigration - and is keen on maintaining institutional links with the EU. I have listened to him speak. What I am hearing is exactly the right tone of pragmatism and under him we will likely get a deal based on the realities rather than an ideologically driven Brexit - assuming the free market can overnight replace 40 years of systems integration.

I think Starmer has a few things wrong because he has a faulty definition of the Customs Union but that always was a red herring. It's something we can afford to make a mistake with and revisit later. What we cannot afford is for unilateral and irreversible calls to be made based on the Tory interpretation of Brexit which could result in the loss of most of our European trade and a major dent in our international standing.

Brexit is a complex subject and what we need is politicians who have a very good idea of the stakes, a good working knowledge of the institutions and a good idea of how trade works. In the competency stakes Starmer is ahead by a country mile and is, more importantly, not closed off to advice. He is the more trustworthy and reliable option.

Ultimately the decider is what kind of people we are electing. May and her Brexit ministers believe they know it all and cannot be told anything. They will not listen to advice and anyone contracting them finds themselves out of a job. This is no way to run a government. They are running a secretive agenda, they are not being straight with us and I can say, unequivocally, that these people do not know what they are doing - and they are playing with fire.

Be under no illusions here. This is a question not just of Brexit but of our national survival. All other priorities are rescinded. I do not say these words lightly and I do not endorse Labour politicians casually. It offends all of my sensibilities to have to do it. I have my doubts about Starmer but when contrasted with Fox, Davis and Johnson it's a no brainer. For the purposes of Brexit we are safer with Labour. There's a sentence I never thought I would write. I need to go take a shower.

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