The media and left commentators are focusing on the leadership fight at the top of the Labour Party while ignoring the fresh new disaster the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn is preparing. He is positioning Labour as the party of ‘Lexit’ (left-wing exit from the European Union). Anyone who doubts this bleak assessment should read his latest statement:
“Neither wing of the Tory government has an exit plan. Labour will now ensure that our reform agenda is at the heart of the negotiations that lie ahead. That includes the freedom to shape our economy for the future and the necessity of protecting social and employment rights.
“Over the next 24 hours I will reshape my shadow cabinet and announce a new leadership team to take forward Labour’s campaign for a fairer Britain – and to get the best deal with Europe for our people.”
Does anyone seriously believe that British voters are stupid enough to think Jeremy Corbyn can extract the best deal out of anyone for anything?
Corbyn can redeem himself as leader of the opposition if he:
- Abandons ‘Lexit’.
- Exploits the non-binding nature of the Brexit referendum result.
- Seizes on the very real Brexit regret (Bregret) sentiment.
- Converts the snap election Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron calls into a ‘do over’ vote on Brexit.
In the general election to replace Cameron’s failed government, Labour must champion the Remain position alongside the Scottish National Party (SNP). The SNP’s Remain position compels them to push for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom (UK) in order to keep Scotland inside the European Union.
With the governing Conservative Party divided over Brexit and in disarray after Cameron’s resignation, a vigorous and united left-wing Remain effort could conceivably draw support from pro-Remain Tory voters who cannot stomach the pro-Brexit blowhard Boris Johnson or the UK Independence Party (UKIP) much as anti-Trump Republicans who plan to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the U.S. general election. Since Scottish secession from the UK is likely if a Brexit government is formed, Labour could plausibly tell conservative voters that “a vote for Johnson/Farage is a vote to destroy the UK as we know it,” a harrowing prospect for any self-respecting conservative. Whether or not enough Tory voters would defect to Labour under these circumstances to create a Labour government is an open question but the alternative scenarios are surely worse.
If Corbyn’s Lexit line prevails within the Labour Party, Remain voters (almost one-half of the electorate) can only vote for would be the SNP (which does not run candidates outside of Scotland) or the fringe parties with less than a dozen seats in the House of Commons. This could lead to unprecedented frustration and abstention by Remain voters which would almost certaintly benefit UKIP and the Johnson-led Conservatives.
Either way, the future of Labour, the UK, and the European Union depends on whether and how Corbyn chooses to lead, follow, or get out of the way.
God help us.