“As Unions and former front benchers move to pressurise the Party to accept a “soft Brexit” what they must realise is that the beauty of the Labour Party’s position lies in making the distinctions between the hard and soft Brexits (whatever they may be, because they are far from clear) irrelevant.”
Labour are committed to taking the UK out of the EU, that is clear, what their post Brexit vision for the UK is and what sort of Brexit (hard/soft, red/white/blue etc.) they advocate is, perhaps by design, less so. It is, in fact a little ambiguous and open, as a result there’s level of confusion out there concerning their position.
“Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first. We will prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations.”
Reads the 2017 manifesto while going on to promise an
“…end [to] Theresa May’s reckless approach to Brexit, and seek to unite the country around a Brexit deal that works for every community in Britain.”
May’s approach is, of course, to push a narrative of faux toughness in the face of EU bogey men negotiators who are determined to make sure that the UK is made an example of as a deterrent to other would be Exiters as she tells us,
“I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”
Throughout the election campaign May and the Conservatives pushed the line that, in any negotiation one must be prepared to walk away, pre-empting a combative process the Conservative have set the scene for negotiations fraught with conflict. While Labour want to “build a close new relationship” and this distinction is key to understanding Labour’s approach.
“Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade. We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and if needs be negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge’ for the economy.”
Labour, while they are committed to leaving the EU, they are also committed to negotiating deal. One that, as we read the rest of the manifesto looks to:
- Keep the UK a part of Horizon 2020
- Maintain our membership of organisations which benefit us such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency
- Keep us apart of the Erasmus scheme for students
- Ensure EU market access for our farm and agricultural industries
- Ensure that EU derived laws including workplace laws, consumer rights and environmental protections are fully protected
- Ensures no hard boarder between NI and the ROI
And so on and so on, but to what end? To maintain as close a relationship to the EU as possible without being a member of it that’s what. Add to this the often repeated mantra and a picture does start to emerge. Labour will essentially look to take us out of the EU, out of the single market, while maintaining as many of the benefits of membership as possible. May would say this is impossible, more accurately though it’s something she is not willing to try.
Trying to go for the best of all possibilities is some we have to be prepared to do, ignoring the result of the referendum is not an option but neither is sending the country’s economy down the swanny.
As Unions and former front benchers move to pressurise the Party to accept a “soft Brexit” what they must realise is that the beauty of the Labour Party’s position lies in making the distinctions between the hard and soft Brexits (whatever they may be, because they are far from clear) irrelevant. The labour Party leadership is able to side step and not get draw into the hard/soft divide, therefore by-passing the many pit-falls that pot that route, it simply doesn’t recognise the categories hard and soft and therefore it is able to approach the negotiations with and open mind and an open heart.
They have committed to a negotiating position, and to doing a deal that enables the UK to act not as members of but partners to the EU, one of cooperation not competition.
“But the EU will never allow us a deal that has all the benefits of membership without accepting the terms of membership!”
Has anyone tried to as ask them that? Labour have said they will at least try and that rather than being combative in the negotiation they will try to be cooperative and open and seek support from European partners in other Socialist parties, which for me is the best approach to take, it’s better than the UKIPers of the Tory Right, the faux outrage and combative approach of May and it is better than the soft Brexiteers calling for us to essentially stay in the EU by staying in the Single Market. And at the end of it all they will
“.. legislate to guarantee that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on the final Breit deal.”
Ensuring parliamentary scrutiny and full democratic processes. So can everyone just wind their necks in for the time being and let things play out.