It's not only that neither party has a viable Brexit policy. Neither Labour or the Tories even have a unified Brexit platform to campaign onby Chaminda Jayanetti / November 21, 2018 / Leave a comment
You can’t blame them for trying. From the moment Labour lost the last election, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been demanding another one.
Armed with a formidable campaigning machine, bolstered by union funds and membership fees, and riding the backlash against austerity, they seem certain they are one public vote from power.
Given that, it’s not surprising that Labour’s reaction to the Brexit crisis is to repeat its demand for a general election.
It’s also easy to see why many MPs and members have rallied behind this call. For those who—entirely legitimately—prioritise the ending of austerity over anything pertaining to Brexit, a general election offers the chance to put an immediate end to the eight-year squeeze on public spending.
But Labour is not merely pitching an election as a chance for the country to change course on domestic policy. A new election is Labour’s response to the Brexit crisis: it is Corbyn and McDonnell’s stated solution to the questions we face.
Fundamentally, those questions are: what sort of Brexit deal does the government have a mandate for; whether to seek a fresh mandate for a different Brexit, or no Brexit at all; and how to make any progress through a fractured and fractious parliament.
A general election is likely to solve none of these things.
For an election to deliver a mandate for any particular form of Brexit—one that keeps free movement, or restores sovereignty over rulemaking, for example—the winning party must be united behind a clear, specific Brexit policy in its manifesto.
The Tories are unlikely to enjoy such unity. Members of the pro-Brexit European Research Group may run on their own “personal” manifestos, committing to a harder Brexit than that allowed under the “backstop” in Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
If re-elected, these MPs could then claim their mandate is to reject the very deal the party itself would be pledging to implement.
But the Conservatives at least have something resembling a Brexit policy in the form of the backstop.
Labour’s policy is nonsense. Even as the witching hour draws near, Labour continues to indulge in cake-ism and ambiguity of a sort that would be totally unviable in government.
May has prioritised…