Chair's message to members - 12 November 2018
Dear Member and Supporter
Keir Starmer's six tests
No Brexit could meet Keir Starmer's six tests, which include "Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?". So the Labour Opposition's opposition is a sure thing, surely?
Jeremy Corbyn's three or four tests
But here we find double standards. Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party Conference speech promised to back - or if in Government to obtain - a deal that included "a customs union and no hard border in Ireland, [that would] protect jobs, people’s rights at work and environmental and consumer standards". (I make that three or four tests with some grouping; certainly it's not Starmer's six.) No mention of the single market (whose real or imagined rules Lexiters (Labour Brexiters) resent). So we have an opposition Leader who says the Government will have failed if it does not obtain the exact same benefits as membership of the single market but who does not even wish to have those benefits for his own version of Brexit. That is hardly straight dealing with the electorate.
Even now, as this post-Conference tweet of 17 October shows, the Labour party commits itself to Jeremy Corbyn's tests, not to Keir Starmer's. The Shadow Chancellor's interview on 5 November reflects the Corbyn line rather than Starmer's. Both men are in breach of the Labour Party's agreed Conference policy resolution which is based on the six tests. But then, it is not clear that even Keir Starmer would apply his tests to a Labour Brexit: according to BBC News "Sir Keir, who is holding talks with EU figures in Brussels, insisted Labour could persuade the EU to back its proposed Brexit plan of a customs union with freedom for the UK on trade deals and immigration." (though a customs union with freedom to make your own trade deals sounds like another Brexiter fantasy to me).
Will Jeremy Corbyn back Theresa May?
The leadership of the Labour Party desires Brexit. Many Labour MPs and most party members support Remain and a referendum on the terms to obtain it. Even Momentum - 92% in the opinion poll - backs Keir Starmer's six tests. But there can be no complacency about the position of the Leader of the Labour Party. I still assume he will start by rejecting Theresa May's Brexit. Party politics dictates that. And party unity: after all, pretty well the only Brexit policy that almost the whole of the Labour party can agree on is hostility to Tory Brexit. If Labour was actually in office they would be tearing themselves apart over Brexit just as the Conservatives are.
But we do not know whether Jeremy Corbyn will actually oppose Brexit hard and long enough to stop it happening by way of a referendum on the terms with the option to Remain. That is the only Labour Party test that really matters.
So all those bodies for Labour party members and supporters who campaigned so strongly before the Labour Party Conference need to regroup and step up their campaigning to persuade the Leave-oriented Leader to follow his Remain-oriented party. I would invite those of you who are in the Labour party or sympathetic to it to consider joining and supporting those campaign groups.
This e-mail sets out the personal views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of London4Europe.