4 April 2019
Diary of a Corbynista
Save me, Jeremy!
By Don Urquhart
Independent Group MP Anna Soubry attempted to raise a point of order after The Speaker had announced the results of the indicative votes. As The Evening Standard reports, she was shouted down by the Tories opposite. It was reminiscent of the incident outside Parliament a couple of months ago when James Goddard, a right wing activist, attempted to intimidate her.
I was reminded also of the last sentence of Animal Farm:
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.
Theresa May’s third attempt to impose her Withdrawal Agreement on Parliament was defeated by 58 votes. In Parliament Square fans of Brexit were holding rallies. As the Independent reports, right wing organisations used the occasion to threaten violence if we do not leave the European Union. It is as many Tories in the House warned. So we have to decide whether our policies are to be determined by Parliament or by the threats of Tommy Robinson and his ilk.
On 6th February I had the temerity to suggest:
The best option is pursuit of a Customs Union, which would fully protect the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). It would also require an extension to Article 50 for as long as it takes to negotiate a new Withdrawal Agreement that could get through the EU and the Commons. The main weakness is that it is as nebulous as May’s Deal at this time. Also it would entail a major climb-down by the Prime Minister and almost certainly a new Tory leader or a General Election if she sees this as her only way of clinging to power.
It seems that the “Customs Union” is the favourite to emerge from the indicative votes as the least bad option, so it’s a shame that I’ve changed my mind. In February I matched the options against the consequences for the GFA, the economy, civil unrest and an assessment of the clarity of what was being proposed. Now I have added another criterion – how long will it take to resolve?
Against all criteria but one, the option that is clearly the most beneficial is to revoke Article 50.
If we do this, the right wing newspapers will scream betrayal of democracy and there will be no shortage of people inside and outside parliament who will froth at the mouth and foment insurrection. From that perspective it is the worst option but for me it is still the least bad overall.
But then I am a Corbynista who believes the root of the country’s ills lies not in our relations with the European Union but in the government’s austerity policies.
Now it is time to revoke Article 50.
I voted for Brexit in 2016.
If a General Election is called, the wave of black propaganda and cherry-picked statistics will be washing over us.
So we have to get our arguments together. Here’s a fine list of reasons to ditch this government, tweeted by Rachael Swindon:
1m disability benefit sanctions.
100 ESA claimants die daily.
Rough sleeping up 165%.
131,000 homeless children.
120,000 austerity-linked deaths.
1/14 have used a food bank.
Terminally ill fit-for-work.
Unless President Macron objects, there will be a long extension to Article 50. So we had better start planning for European elections. I guess I am not alone in finding this a bit of a novelty. Can it be that the British people will become more involved in EU politics?
What an extraordinary speech by the AfD co-leader Alice Weidel in the Bundestag! Her depiction of Brexit as a disaster for the German economy is well-argued.
Jeremy Corbyn has to tread carefully. Theresa May is offering to consult him and jointly present with him whatever they agree. Perhaps he should let the indicative votes go ahead and take the winner as his theme.
The Prime Minister still has her red lines. She is sitting down with Corbyn today demanding that her Withdrawal Agreement must be passed as is and that we leave the EU by May 22nd.
Corbyn’s stated policy is customs union/single market alignment. If she accepts this, there is nothing to say that the EU will and it would surely involve considerable negotiation. Also why would Corbyn believe that May would and could deliver on whatever is agreed? Her days are numbered and her successor might take a radically different approach.
I suppose there is an outside chance of her succumbing to a confirmatory referendum although she has set her face against it.