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The real UK pro-EU party… July 21, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Difficult not to think, looking at the latest polling on members of the British Labour Party that far from the Liberal Democrats being the pro-EU party it is the BLP that neatly fits into that slot. Small wonder too that the LDs didn’t make any hay given that fact at the last election.

For the ESRC in the UK has discovered that:

On Brexit, the survey revealed that their views are fiercely pro-EU, including that:
• 49% of members think there should “definitely” be a vote on the final Brexit deal, with a further 29.4% answering “more yes than no” to the question, and only 8.8% definitely opposing it.
• Two-thirds of members (66%) think Britain should definitely stay in the single market with a further fifth (20.7%) saying “more yes than no” to the question. Only 4.2% of Labour members said they definitely believed Britain should leave the grouping.
• There were similar levels of support on the customs union with 63.1% saying Britain should definitely stay within the group, 22.2% leaning towards the same position, and only 2.4% saying the UK should definitely leave it.

This could only be a surprise to people who have little or no knowledge of the BLP. My own recollection of being a member in the late 1980s in a constituency that was reasonably left wing was a clear pro-EU sentiment. Albeit not uncritical, which accorded very much with my own views.

What is interesting to me, though it again makes sense on reflection, is that clearly the new membership, Momentum inspired etc, is equally if not more pro-EU than those who were in the party a long time. Again, these are often young, though not exclusively so, and active. Why wouldn’t they be pro the positive aspects of EU cooperation – and hopefully critical of the negative aspects.

There’s further aspects to this. As Tim Bale who was involved in the project notes:

Members overwhelmingly wanted to stay in EU and now want to remain inside the single market and customs union, so there is likely to be some discomfort over any ‘have our cake and eat it’ policy from the leadership,” he said.

And there’s a political aspect to this too…

Bale said there would come a point at which Corbyn’s party would be forced to “show its true colours on this – and it can either go with the membership and probably the feeling of most MPs, or it can carry on with what is effectively a hard Brexit”.

This is going to be tricky for the leadership of the party, and no question. Because this goes way beyond the left/right divide. Indeed it’s difficult to discern that divide in this at all. The support is too great to break down into Blairites or legacy Blairites and Corbynites. The latter are as enthusiastic about the EU as the former. More so perhaps and by quite some distance if some of the rhetoric about support for immigration controls on foot of Brexit from the legacy Blairites are to be believed.

I’ve mentioned before that I think the studied ambiguity is no harm at this point though. And Corbyn et al are absolutely correct to pay out the rope to the Tories. This is the Tories disaster and it is for them to deal with it and not for the BLP to try to save them.

That said it is very difficult to see the BLP being able to strike a position in support of a hard Brexit given this sentiment inside the party. Though clearly, and this isn’t unimportant, there’s a degree of realism as to the fact of Brexit and that it will happen.

But then, and this may really pose an issue politically, what of the obvious rational alternatives to EU membership such as EEA/EFTA membership?


1. FergusD - July 21, 2017

Vince Cable is trying to woo the “youth” vote by claiming g Corbyn is for a hard Brexit. I am a bit worried, even though I am far from enthusiastic about the EU, that Corbin has something of the old Bennite anti-EU views.


WorldbyStorm - July 21, 2017

I suppose the key thing is even if he is anti-EU that he accepts that the LP sentiment isn’t so and that, still accounting for Brexit that the relationship between the EU and the UK is going to be a lot closer than a hard Brexit.


2. sonofstan - July 21, 2017

“, is that clearly the new membership, Momentum inspired etc, is equally if not more pro-EU than those who were in the party a long time.”

I’m not sure. A lot of the new members round our way are lexiteers with a child like faith in the old ‘scales falling from the eyes of the working classes’ trick


WorldbyStorm - July 21, 2017

They’ll be disappointed.


3. Joe - July 21, 2017

Isn’t it the case that if Corbyn hadn’t won the Labour leadership contest and was still a backbencher, he would have been a Lexiteer? That would have been his form, no?
So now I’d say he’s comfortable with Brexit. As this plays out, I wonder will it cause him problems and cause some people to reconsider their support for him?


WorldbyStorm - July 21, 2017

I hope not.


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