The left should be fighting for a Labour government to negotiate Brexit in a progressive way—not trying to find new ways to destabalise Corbynby Richard Seymour / June 30, 2017 / Leave a comment
What was Chuka Umunna’s quelled backbench rebellion all about? It wasn’t, certainly, about a principled position on single market membership, as he suggested in these pages. He had previously argued that Britain should be prepared to leave the single market in order to have a populist crackdown on immigration.
But like many on the Labour Right, Umunna is skewered between conflicting opportunisms. It is traditional for them to triangulate to the right on immigration, but they also see Brexit as a potential wedge issue for weakening Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. This is particularly important after general election results which greatly strengthened Corbyn, blocking the accession of a fresh-faced Blairite leadership for the foreseeable future. In the words of Malcolm Tucker: unforeseeable, that’s what you are.
So, Umunna’s amendment, seeking to commit this government—and thereby a future Labour government—to single market membership, could plausibly be read as a leadership wheeze. Yet relatively few MPs were willing to get on board. Labour Remainers, according to the editor of BBC Newsnight, have expressed impatience with Umunna’s “vanity amendment.” The Remainer leader of Unison, Dave Prentis, has issued a statement denouncing this “distracting” “symbolic rebellion.”