DEBUG: blog_post
01 May, 2018

Party or Remain?

London4Europe Committee member Michael Romberg recognises the dilemma many voters face.

What if Corbyn came out for Remain?

Let’s imagine that – as many hope and believe will happen, somewhat in the face of the evidence – Jeremy Corbyn comes out for Remain in a pre-Brexit general election. What would Conservative Remainers do? They would face a real dilemma. For many Conservatives, Corbyn must be if not exactly the devil then surely a senior officer in the infernal hierarchy.

In the 2017 election both main parties supported Brexit, although Labour’s ambiguities and rhetoric succeeded in persuading many people especially students, that it supported Remain. So voting Labour was not much of a choice for a Conservative Remainer. Most 2015 Conservative voters who backed Remain voted Conservative in 2017.

But how would they respond to a choice between Brexit-Conservatives and Remain-Corbyn? Would they say that Brexit is for decades while how much harm could Corbyn do in five years? Would they think of Venezuela or Iron Curtain Eastern Europe and say that Brexit could surely be reversed easily while full-on socialism would harm the country for ages? Would they put party – domestic politics, habit – above Remain? Or would they put Remain above domestic politics, above party?

Many would find that choice really hard.

To some extent we know the answer

The practical evidence shows that many people find the decision quite easy. In 2016, over 16m voted Remain. In the 2017 election, the two main Remain parties (Liberal Democrat + Green) received fewer than 3m votes.

For sure, some of the votes for the two main parties were for individual candidates who were for Remain and who had a proven record of voting against their parties’ Brexit policies. First past the post means most Liberal Democrat votes are wasted – unless there is a huge swing to them. But most Remainers prioritised domestic politics or party loyalty (or believed that Labour would stop Brexit).

Even hard-Brexit supporting Labour candidate Kate Hoey was returned in Vauxhall, the 9th most Remain-voting constituency.

Now What?

Unless you were an established Liberal Democrat or Green party member/ voter this is a dilemma that you have been facing since the referendum.

London4Europe is an all-party/ non-party organisation. Except on EU issues we do not involve ourselves in party politics. We do not provide advice on how to vote. But we do analyse the position and confront the issues squarely.

It does not matter that parties contain elements who are supporting Remain. Unless individuals are willing to defy the party line a vote for a party that supports Brexit is a vote for Brexit. And even if your candidate defies the whip, a vote for the party strengthens the leadership and means that most MPs follow the party line even if they think that Remain is the right answer.

Those Remainers who on general domestic politics support a party which is for Brexit have a dilemma. Party or Remain? How they resolve that will determine whether the UK leaves the EU or not.



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