Corbyn’s priorioties, tardy progress in Brexit talks

Arun Srivastava

With British Prime Minister Theresa May unable to handle effectively the Brexit issue and the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn emerging as the most favoured candidate for the top job, a section of the Labour leaders opposed to Corbyn’s entry into the office of the prime minister have launched a sinister campaign against him.
They have been creating the impression that the core support group of the party and its voters have been opposed to the party’s current stance on Brexit. They are, in fact, in league with the Tories to stop the ascendance of Corbyn. They also supported a survey, which interestingly found 32 percent of Labour “remain” voters believe Labour is “completely against Brexit” and a further 31 percent of Labour “leave” voters believe Labour is “completely in favour of Brexit”.
No doubt major differences had surfaced inside Labour in 2016 when the referendum was held to assess the mood of Britons on the Brexit. But even at that stage no one challenged Corbyn on this particular issue while he did not come out with a clear stand. He had looked at it from the capitalist maneuverings perspective.
Curiously, during 2017 or even during the election, which of course Theresa May lost, no Labour leader raised the issue of Labour losing support or the possible alienation of cadres.
According to Mark Malloch Brown, a crossbench peer and chair of Best for Britain, “This data shows, clearly, that many more remainers are likely to abandon Labour over its Brexit line than leavers. Labour did so well in the election off the back of pro-European voters tactically voting for them. All that could be at risk if this policy, a calculated policy of ambiguity, continues.” He is a bundle of confusion. While he appreciates the voters’ response, he expresses apprehensions. He did not spell out the reasons for his trepidation.
Since the Brexit issue has come to be directly related to the sovereignty of the country, the Labour leadership must come clear. It is significant in the poll, 63 percent of self-identified Labour supporters say they would be “delighted or pleased” if Labour said it would stop Brexit and stay in the European Union. By contrast, only 22 percent supporters said they would be delighted or pleased if Labour said it would proceed with Brexit and ensure the UK leaves the EU.
It is a known secret that talks between Britain and the EU are not making any significant progress. The primary reason is that the EU is not sure May can deliver or the present government will continue to rule Britain till next general elections in 2022. With Labour on the ascendency, EU members are in no rush to settle things. It appears that Corbyn is correct in his estimate that it is not Britain’s exit from EU but anger at the growing inequality, increasing job insecurity, a housing crisis, and EU strictures that have turned economic strategy over to unelected bureaucrats and banks.
It is the inability of May to effectively face the crisis that has turned British insecure. For them, at this stage, preserving and protecting the interest of Britain is upper most in their minds than anything else. Basically, this has been the reason that some people have approached Corbyn to come forward and protect the country through counseling Labour supporters and cadres. In fact, this underlines the faith the people have in Corbyn. The people of Britain desperately need a strong and united team to negotiate a Brexit that serves their interests. The Tories cannot provide it. Labour can, but it will have to distinguish between access to the EU single market and submission to that market’s pro-big business rules and institutions.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer had announced in August that his Labour party wanted to keep the UK in the single market and a customs union during a transition that could last for up to four years. Labour would also accept free movement of people, payments into the EU budget and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice during the transition. The single market is seen as the EU's biggest achievement. Britain was a member of a free trade area in Europe before it joined what was then known as the common market. The European Union single market, which was completed in 1992, allows the free movement of goods, services, money and people within the European Union, as if it was a single country.
Those campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU say it got a big boost from membership. They hold that Britain's status in the world would be damaged by leaving and that the country is more secure as part of the 28 nation club, rather than going it alone.
If Labour is ever to return to power, it must capture another 64 seats in Parliament; that requires a 3.6 per cent swing away from the Conservatives. Preaching to middle-class liberals will not be enough, since almost all those 64 most winnable constituencies contain a high concentration of Brexit-supporting voters. Corbyn has to strive hard and dispel any misconception amongst the voters, especially the youth, his new support base, about his role as well as party’s position on Brexit. (IPA)

Saturday, 6 January, 2018