Can the positions of the political parties on Brexit get any weirder?

For three years, Brexit has been a moving picture with surprise after surprise. It’s a political soap opera that never ceases to amaze. So now we have three established political parties facing in very different directions but each with major doubts over their capacity to deliver their current position.

The official Conservative view is that the UK will leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 with or without a deal but that a deal is preferable and possible. The trouble is that there is no evidence that a deal is likely and, since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister two months ago, no firm proposals for a deal have been submitted to the other Member States of the EU. Meanwhile Parliament has passed an Act which declares that, if there is no deal, then we must seek a further extension of Article 50 to 31 January 2020. So how can we get a deal in the next month and a half and, if we don’t, how can the Government ignore the will of Parliament?

Then we have the Liberal Democrats who have just decided at their Annual Conference that the party’s position is now that we should withdraw the UK application under Article 50 to leave the EU. Apparently this will be the position of a Lib Dem Government elected at the forthcoming General Election. Except that there is no question of such a government and even the talk of up to 200 seats in the new Parliament is utterly fanciful. And, in any event, ignoring the decision of the referendum and staying in the EU without the mandate of a further referendum, can be seen as profoundly anti-democratic and will certainly infuriate Leave supporters.

So that brings us to the position of the Labour Party which has evolved this week – at least far as the view of its leader Jeremy Corbyn is concerned. He wants to win a General Election, renegotiate the terms of leaving under four pillars, and then put the new deal and remain to a second referendum, But astonishingly he states that, as Prime Minister, be would not publicly back or campaign for either option. So the British head of government would have no view on the most importance political decision since we declared war in 1939 – what an abrogation of leadership. But this ambiguous decision might just play well at the ballot box in an election since it would allow both Leave and Remain voters to back Labour if they are happy with Corbyn’s leadership and the rest of the Labour manifesto.

Of course, it is by no means certain that Labour can win a General Election in the next few months or even form a minority or coalition government. But, if it does manage to take office, can it really negotiate a better deal with the EU when the other Member States know that Corbyn as Prime Minister has no intention of supporting such a deal? And, if Corbyn himself is going to stay neutral in a further referendum, will he – as Harold Wilson did in 1975 – allow his Ministers and MPs to campaign on whichever side they support personally?

In short: can the positions of the political parties on Brexit get any weirder or more diverse? Well, let’s see what the Labout Party Conference has to say in less than a week’s time and what the Labour manifesto actually states once an election is called.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>