Why a Labour 12/12 win might actually be the worst long-term outcome for remainers

Posted on October 31st, 2019 by whinger. Filed under Uncategorized.

I’m wary of posting this blog. There’s a lot of people who really won’t like it. But I think it needs saying. It’s a crystallisation of arguments I’ve been having on Twitter for a while, mainly with people who either can’t understand or won’t. I expect most of them will have much the same reaction to me here, which will be to either put me down as (at various points) a fantasist, an idealist, simply an idiot or even (on one particularly memorable occasion) a closet no-dealer.

I don’t generally post political blogs: I don’t usually have much to say that someone else isn’t saying better than I could. No-one seems to be saying this though. Possibly because it’s toxic. Possibly because it will upset people who need to stay onside for now. Possibly because the truth is too painful to admit. Or possibly because I’m wrong I suppose. It has been known.

Either way, this blog is just a way for me to explain to myself, as much as to anyone else, the reasons why I’ve surprised myself by being quite so belligerent about this. Ordinarily I’m all for tactical voting but it feels wrong this time.

There’s a lot of discussion just now about how we remainers must all vote tactically to ensure the Tories are kicked out on 12/12. There are several websites popping up purporting to tell you the best anti-Tory vote for a given constituency. Some of them even agree with each other. But ignoring that, the generally accepted view has become that a Labour government (or a Labour-dominated minority government) will save us from a damaging Tory Brexit, and that even though Corbyn wants his “jobs-first” Brexit (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one) Labour has finally committed to a referendum on their deal (a “people’s vote”, as we’re told to call it by the “grassroots” organisation that isn’t), so (since current polling shows a healthy lead for remain) that’s our least worst option.

It’s not. If anything it could be, at least in the long term, the worst option of all for anyone who values membership of the EU.


There, it’s out of the way. Yes, I really do think that a Corbyn-negotiated Brexit is the worst of all worlds.

Now some of you will have dismissed me as a Corbyn-hater (I’m not) or a Tory (even less so). If so, this article isn’t aimed at you. Feel free to dismiss my views as crackpot centrist nonsense from a Blairite traitor and go back to reading The Canary or Skwawkbox or The Morning Star or whatever. I stand no chance of persuading you that the sky is blue, forgetting anything more contentious.

For those of you still with me, let me go into this more detail.

For a remainer, any Brexit is abhorrent. Some of us pretend that we would have been happy with EFTA but in reality we would have accepted it through gritted teeth. We want our freedom of movement. We want our friends (and for some our families) who have lived here for a generation or more to stay and feel as welcome as they always have.

Brexit destroys our partnerships, puts our relationships with our trading allies at risk and places us at the mercy of the larger powers while we attempt to negotiate trade deals in a world which is showing itself more and more partisan with each news cycle.

As a remainer my end goal must be to remain in the EU. Failing that, if the unimaginable happens, it must be to rejoin, and as quickly as possible because the longer we are out the further from the EU we will become, both legally and politically.

Assuming you agree, let’s look at the options.

Corbyn is planning (assuming the patience of the EU27 holds) on tearing up the negotiation May’s team did to achieve the WA and starting again with some new red lines: a customs union, single market access, an end to freedom of movement.

Ignoring for argument’s sake that the EU27 could legitimately turn around and point out that single market access (whatever that is) is the subject of the forthcoming trade agreement, not anything to do with the withdrawal agreement (which must be signed off first) and assuming that Corbyn does manage to pull off the impossible task and present us with a deal that closely represents what he’s promising, we’ll then have a people’s vote: deal or repeal if you like, or more correctly withdrawal-agreement or revoke-article-50.

That’s the good bit, say our remainer strategists, because we will definitely win a second referendum: all the polls say so.

Now I’m not one of these people who go “polls have been wrong, look at 2010/2015/2017/1992/the Pop Idol final”. Yes, ok, everyone thought Gareth would win. But I tend to believe that in general and if you take an unbiased long view of multiple polls on behalf of different sides you can get a pretty strong view of a likely result.

No, my problem with the Labour-second-reffers is that they’re missing the point. Remain has a healthy lead at the moment precisely because Johnson’s deal is so diabolically bad that even an idiot can see we should reject it. And when faced with the bad-deal-or-no-deal choice most people are sensibly picking the third option – remain.

But if Lexit is negotiated, with the customs union but no single market (and bear in mind that survey results like these suggest the vast majority don’t understand what they are) I reckon those numbers wouldn’t look nearly so healthy.

Worse still, if Saint Jeremy gets his way at the emergency meeting of the NEC or whoever it is that gets to decide and Labour end up campaigning for the deal in the second ref, we might as well pack up and go home, because we lose a good 10-20% of remain voters in that one action. Because Some People Really Trust Corbyn.

Then the final nail in the remain coffin: a customs union will be nowhere near as bad as no-deal. That sounds like a good thing but by the time we’ve got through the transition period the chances are we’ll have got onto arguing about whether Jo Swinson should have been out of Strictly after her Samba by the time it comes to even noticing that we’ve left to any great extent. Getting together a fight to rejoin, especially after a 70:30 trouncing in ref2, is going to be a hard and ultimately unrewarding slog.

So what’s my suggestion?

Remainers should be voting for remain parties. It’s as simple as that. 422 of 632 constituencies are now majority remain. If we all have the strength of feeling to back our position, we will win. What will lose us the election is falling prey to the fearmongering of the two major parties who are desperate not to lose their stranglehold on traditional FPTP British politics.

I guess there’s not much chance of this working. Most people will continue to tell me that I don’t understand (I do) or that it’s impossible (it isn’t). It is however highly unlikely and I see that. But I also see that, if you actually want the UK in the EU, handing Corbyn the keys to no 10 is no better (and could be much worse) than another catastrophically poor Tory government.


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