One of the mysteries of the Brexit referendum campaign has been the invisibility of Labour politicians in the pro-European Union camp. Why have aspiring Labour leaders such as Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall or Tristram Hunt not jumped at the chance to raise their political profiles by campaigning against Brexit? Any new generation Labour politician who campaigned against Brexit, while attacking David Cameron as a venal and irresponsible Prime Minister whose pandering to Tory extremists has threatened Britain with economic disaster, would be facing an open goal.
David Cameron could not defend himself against the charge of irresponsibility, since his own campaign will have to acknowledge the risks of Brexit as the referendum draws closer. Secondly, the Prime Minister could not compete with a Labour voice in warning against the dangers of Brexit, since he was responsible for needlessly exposing the country to these risks. Thirdly, Jeremy Corbyn would be no match for a new-generation Labour politician in advocating the EU cause, since he probably supports Brexit. Corbyn is also in hock to the ageing Old Labour militants who view the EU as a capitalist conspiracy, whereas Labour’s only hope of revival is to energise a new generation of young, cosmopolitan, pro-EU voters.
For evidence of the potential catastrophe created by Cameron, ambitious young Labour politicians should look at financial markets, specifically the only financial market to have repeatedly changed the course of British politics. This is the currency market, where the pound has collapsed since the referendum announcement to the rock-bottom it only hit briefly during the 2008 financial crisis. The pound has only traded at or below $1.40 for four short periods in history: the two months in early 2009 when every bank in Britain was failing; the weeks following the 9/11 attacks; the period after the pound’s “Black…