There was this article in the Guardian which has been much shared on Twitter amongst Remainers. Remainers were angry at what Corbyn said during the interview, but the diehard Corbyn supporters claimed that the headline was misleading and Corbyn was only following the policy agreed at the party conference in Liverpool in September.
G and I were on the protest march and attended the rally that was held outside that conference. It was very clear, not just from the march, but also from the polls, that a majority of Labour party members (who Corbyn claims should be setting party policy) were strongly anti-Brexit and pro-Remain. However, the calls for the Labour party to oppose Brexit were watered down because Cobyn and the party leaders were scared of losing seats due to traditional Labour voting areas also being strongly Brexit voting. (It's actually much more complicated than that. Most leave voters were in the well-off South of England, but there is some truth to the Leave voting "left-behind" former industrial areas voting for Brexit and refusing to see that they've been duped by the millionaires who'll make a killing out of the chaos.)
But Labour should be protecting the working class (from themselves if necessary!), not pushing forwards with a policy that will hurt them far more than it will hurt the affluent SE of England.
But anyway, lets take that policy, as explained in this article on the Vox political online website.
Firstly, the title "Here’s the reason ‘centrist’ commentators are pretending to be upset about Labour’s Brexit policy". There is no "pretending" to be upset and they're not "centrist". People who believed in Corbyn and voted for him to be party leader, believing him to be a solid left-wing champion of the working poor, unemployed, sick and disabled, are devastated to realise that he's pushing forward a policy that will make the past years of austerity look like a period of wealth and prosperity. Whatever is currently wrong with the UK, Brexit will make it 10 times worse, especially the hard Brexit that May is pushing for.
Let's take the article point by point:
"It has been Labour’s policy to respect the result of the European Union membership referendum ever since the votes were counted in 2016."
OK, it was fair enough in the summer of 2016 to reluctantly agree that Leave had, just, scraped a win. But since then it's been shown that Leave.eu cheated, overspent, lied, campaigned during the moratorium after the death of Jo Cox, and used illegally obtained personal data to micro-target wavering voters with lying adverts on Facebook. The result was dodgy, very very dodgy. Corbyn should not still be "respecting" the result that was obtained in such a way.
"Labour set six tests for any decoupling deal with the EU, and it is in accordance with party policy that its MPs must vote against Mrs May’s deal; it does not pass those tests."
Any Brexit deal would fail the "six tests". That's been obvious since the six tests were proposed. There is no "jobs first Brexit". It's all just more unicorns.
So the plan is to vote against Theresa May's deal. Now, considering that Corbyn has resolutely refused to table a motion of No Confidence in the Tory government because "he doesn't have the numbers" (as his supporters keep reiterating), why does he think he can vote down May's deal? I'm becoming increasingly worried that it might actually pass. We're relying on minority parties (SNP, Plaid Cymru, LibDems and Green) plus the Tory rebels (plus the DUP for entirely different reasons!) voting against it, but it could be that May's scare tactics of pushing on with No Deal preparations might work and the Tory remainers will fall in line and vote for the deal for fear of being blamed for utter catastrophe of a No Deal Brexit if we run out of time and don't get a deal through Parliament in time
So then what will Corbyn do? The plan agreed at conference assumes that the deal won't pass. For the moment, lets assume that the Tory remainers hold their nerve and the deal doesn't get accepted.
"If the deal is voted down, Labour would then seek a general election on the basis that the vote showed Parliament has no confidence in the Conservative government – and with the aim of negotiating a new Brexit deal on a different timetable."
If Corbyn hasn't got the numbers for a vote of no confidence now, why does he think he'll have one after the vote? The Tory remainers won't vote to bring down their own party. Instead, May will double down on the scare tactics of No Deal meaning to frighten MPs into giving in and voting for her deal, which, to be fair, given the Red Lines that she set, is the best on offer.
But Corbyn thinks he can fight and win an election (still with Brexit in the manifesto) and then to go Europe and get a better deal.
There is so much wrong with that. Let's assume for a moment that, somehow, a snap general election is called. Remainers who voted for Labour last time, in the belief that out of the two main parties it was the one most likely to give way and switch to Remain, will NOT vote for Labour again. They'll vote LibDem or Green or for the new Renew party if a candidate is standing in their constituency. They may even vote Tory if the person standing is an ardent supporter of Remain.
It's obvious that Labour won't win on a Brexit manifesto, polls show that. The result will be another hung parliament or even a majority for Tories, due to our FPTP system preventing minority parties from gaining number seats.
"If Labour fails to secure a general election, all options remain on the table – and if Labour wins a general election but fails to secure a deal that meets its six tests, again, all options remain on the table. It will be for the party’s membership to decide national policy."
So, as we've established, Labour won't get an election, in which case they may deign to push for another referendum to break the deadlock. If they do get a GE, they won't win, and even if by some miracle they did, they can't renegotiate a better deal unless they give up their opposition to Freedom of Movement. (No Brexit deal will pass the Six Tests, but lets assume that they let that slide.)
And if they're going to give up their opposition to Freedom of Movement so they can stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, why not just Remain? We already have the best deal going and anything else won't be as good. We have always had powers over EU citizens coming to work here that the government have never exercised because they simply couldn't be arsed. Checking who arrives who leaves and making sure that they have jobs within the specified time limit are things that other EU countries have always done as it's within the rules of Freedom of Movement.
Corbyn has this idea that he can't carry out his radical left-wing manifesto promises if we remain in the EU because of the rules on state aid for businesses. But other European countries have much more left-wing, socialist policies than the UK and they do it within the EU's rules. On this he is just wrong. Anyway, we'd have to abide by the same rules to remain in the Customs Union (or "a" Customs Union, as Corbyn keeps putting it). And the final nail in the coffin of "it'll prevent my wonderful radical policies" is that the WTO has the same rules. Unless we become a rogue state locked in trade wars with other countries, we have to abide by the rules. This is something that ardent Brexiters fail to realise. The world is much smaller now. We can't just send a gunboat and threaten people into submission. We have to behave in a civilised manner. Short of cutting ourselves off, like North Korea, we have to live with the rules on world trade.
Finally, right at the end, the Vox Political article does address the issue of illegality of the referendum campaign. In response to people calling for Labour to denounce the result as unsound:
"They are right. The EU referendum was a stitch-up and, to be honest, once even suspicions about this became evident, the whole process of leaving the EU should have been suspended, pending a full criminal investigation and a decision on whether the result is legitimate or not.
As this has not happened, I can only conclude that someone has a vested interest in ensuring that Brexit goes ahead before any decision is made. Someone in the Conservative government, that is. Labour has no power in this matter."
Labour are the bloody opposition! It's the opposition's job to hold the government to account. They may not have enough votes to defeat the government, but they have a voice. Corbyn stands up each week at Prime Minister's question time and asks about bus services and other things that, while important, are not the top priority right now. If they're just going to say, "We don't have the numbers in the House," then why do they bother turning up?
Anyway, rant over, but I wanted to vent.