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BLP & Tories – a cakeist alliance? January 30, 2018

Posted by Citizen of Nowhere in Uncategorized.

Well it’s all kicking off again on the Brexit front. Where are we now?

Firstly, phase one isn’t over. ‘Sufficient progress’ doesn’t mean ‘done and dusted.’ Certainly not the case of the border through the island of Ireland. Sufficient progress consisted only in progress in expressing good intentions to achieve the impossible, and declaring that sufficient.

The fundamentals haven’t changed.  Now that the DUP have vetoed special status for NI,  the only way to avoid a customs border is for the UK to remain in the European customs union.  And the only way to avoid an immigration border is for the UK to remain in the single market.  End of.

And the EU is making it clear that it wants legal certainty in a agreement rather than good intentions.  How inconvenient!  They’re kind of like that – annoyingly legalist.

Equally inconvenient is the mandate given to Barnier to finish the transition period by the end of 2020. This would give the UK under two years to try to negotiate a deal, during a period when the UK effectively becomes a EU vassal state. For real this time, not in Farage’s fevered imagination.

And furthermore, the EU is making clear that it can’t negotiate and end position because the UK government still will not say what it wants (apart from the impossible).  This goes for most of the many, many issues that need to be agreed. This is because May is unable to face down any of the factions in her party without being kicked out, but the Tory Brexiteer head-bangers won’t give her the heave just yet, because it suits them to run down the clock into a no-deal Brexit.

The EU side is utterly relaxed because they know they hold all the cards, the clock continues to tick down, and they’ve already factored in the worse outcome.

You’d think this was a time for the British Labour Party to capitalise on the disarray among the Tories by espousing a position that enough Tories could revolt around, and hopefully bring about the collapse of the government and fresh elections.

But not a bit of it.

Just as a large majority of Labour members, and a majority of potential Labour voters, and indeed voters overall, are in favour of a referendum on whatever deal is reached – Corbyn rules it out.

Then when a majority of Labour members favour staying in the single market and the customs union, Labour won’t put this forward as a long-term possibility.

Thereby, incidentally, washing their hands of a workable solution on the Irish border. (Unless, just possibly, Labour plans to stuff the DUP and move the customs and immigration border the the Scottish, Welsh and English mainland.)

The same goes for EFTA.

Instead all you get is Labour cakeism. A ‘jobs-first Brexit’ (whatever that is meant to mean), when the leaked civil service report makes it clear that all non-fairydust scenarios would mean a loss of GDP. But they’re just ‘experts’, I guess.

Like the Tories, Labour rule out the single market, the customs union and EFTA. Instead, somewhere in the mists of the future there hovers before their eyes an agreement that achieves Brexit without any of the disadvantages, while not sabotaging their social democratic agenda. An untutored eye might say that they stand shoulder in cakeism with the Tories.


1. WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2018

I get that the BLP has to watch its flanks, but as the reality of Brexit comes clearer with even UK Govt analyses demonstrating that it is going to incur a hit of varying degrees to the UK one does have to wonder at what point is it going to go for damage limitation – that is, a position that respects the referendum result but does not shirk from pointing out that really EFTA/EEA is the only game in town. Otherwise, when things do turn nasty economically it is entirely possible just as here parties were shoved aside there too the same may occur in a reworking of the British political system. The idea of the BLP being collateral damage in that context is not one I relish.


benmadigan - January 31, 2018

the UK is very divided – Brexit-wise. This is the minority ultra- brexiteers last chance to impose their will on the country so they will push as hard as they can even though Scotland and NI risk actually splitting up the UK.
The BLP will probably not be collateral damage but the Tories certainly will be, whatever pans out.


Citizen of Nowhere - February 1, 2018

Divided indeed Ben.

However, unless Labour plays their cards right they will be included in the political fallout for their passivity and refusal to offer a coherent alternative approach.


2. Phil - January 31, 2018

The key problem Labour have is that the scenario this post puts forward – pro-European rebel Tories banding together with Labour to bring down the government – is never going to happen. Corbyn has enough trouble getting Labour MPs to back him – to imagine that Tory MPs (any Tory MPs) are going to back him over Theresa May, to the point of actually bringing about a Corbynite Labour government, takes optimism to a new level. New Labour peeled off a couple of Tory MPs, but that was New Labour.

So it’s a waiting game; this government will collapse, and Labour will help it happen, but a direct attack won’t make it happen. Hence what Labour are doing at the moment, which is very largely keeping their powder dry. This doesn’t mean endorsing Brexit, though. Just on the last point, it’s not my impression that Labour has ruled out any of those things – EFTA, SM or CU. There’s a lot of fancy footwork going on – references to “a single market” and rather hasty (and, if we’re honest, opportunistic) denunciations of the Posted Workers Directive whenever anyone asks about freedom of movement – and it’s all about positioning. Brexit needs to be seen to fail under its own steam, not because Labour attacked it.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 31, 2018

That’s a fair analysis Phil. Frustrating because it is a waiting game. The key thing I think is that a Brexit is going to happen, or at least almost certainly, and it makes sense for the BLP to assert that while going for the form that is least damaging.


Citizen of Nowhere - January 31, 2018

Thanks for the feedback, Phil.

However there’s one big problem with the waiting game. That is that the headbanger Brexiteers are playing their own waiting game. So long as they can hold out until the end of March 2019 they will get their Brexit, and it will be time-consuming to reverse. Ideally they would like a no-deal Brexit. That’s still on the cards, given the level of negotiating incompetence evidenced by May’s government. The danger is that Labour is seen to be steered by headbanger Lexiteers who want the same.

Polling figures show that it wouldn’t harm Labour at all to endorse a second referendum while there is still time. It may not happen because the Tories may well still be in government, but at least Labour could then go to an election and not alienate people for whom Remain is *the* issue – by not having done enough to try to get and informed vote on the final deal.

Equally, because Labour have no electoral skin in NI these days, it wouldn’t harm them to propose a solution to the problem of the border throught the Island and the damage to a fragile GFA that new border measures through Brexit will bring. That solution is to make the Irish sea the customs and immigration border, if there needs to be one. The DUP will go ballistic, but there is no sympathy for their position on the island of Britain, as far as I can see. No loss for Labour therefore, and another bit of clear blue sea between them and the Tories on the matter of Brexit.

I’m not convinced that there isn’t a cadre of Tory remainers who hare so convinced on the issue that they would be willing to exchange a period of Labour coalition government for the defeat of Brexit. When push comes to shove at the end of this year or the beginning of 2019. Certainly that’s what briefings from people around Kenneth Clark suggest.


benmadigan - January 31, 2018

“the level of negotiating incompetence evidenced by May’s government”
Not discounting it’s real and add in gratuitous insults to the EU.

But is it being done on purpose as “headbanger Brexiteers are playing their own waiting game”.?

Or do the Conservatives/ Brexiteers really lack all nous of modern diplomacy and how things are organized and done in the real world?


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