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Henry Newman @HenryNewman
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Just listened to @steverichards14 say on the Week in Westminster that Labour do have a policy on Brexit.



A thread on Labour’s Brexit mess 👇

Could anyone sum it up Labour's policy in a sentence or two? Do they back leaving EU or not? Are they for ending free movement & leaving Single Market? With fewer than 100 days to go, it’s getting rather late for their position to still be so nebulous, as @JunckerEU might say

For many months now @Keir_Starmer has been manoeuvring Labour towards a position where they could back a second referendum, with remain on the ballot paper.

At Labour Conference in September, a motion was passed explicitly putting such an option on the table

Yet the party's leadership still resists backing a so-called People’s Vote.

The Unite union’s influential General Secretary, Len McCluskey, warned it risks “tearing our society further apart” & alienating the voters in crucial seats which Labour must win over to gain power

The Shadow Education Secretary, @AngelaRayner, warned that a second referendum “undermines democracy”.

According to @ShippersUnbound in the Sunday Times, Corbyn’s gatekeeper Karie Murphy, told colleagues that there would be a second referendum “over my dead body”.

If there was second referendum it’s not even clear whether Labour would back Remain

Last weekend Shadow Communities Secretary, @GwynneMP , suggested Labour might actually campaign for Brexit by “pushing for a Labour deal”.

Of course, there is no actual Labour Brexit deal

Meanwhile, Shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey, has suggested that Labour could renegotiate the Brexit deal to get rid of the backstop and the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell has said “we would not need the backstop”.

But Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman told the BBC World Service that Labour “accept that there is going to have to be a backstop of some form”. The position from the EU side is clear - no backstop, no deal.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andrew McDonald suggested extending Article 50 to negotiate a better deal

But EU would have to unanimously agree an extension, and say they won’t re-negotiate, won’t re-open the deal & won’t extend Article 50 other than for Election or Referendum

I suspect this would apply even if the Labour Party gains power and turns up in Brussels saying “the grown-ups have arrived”, as shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry has suggested.

All of this could be comic if it wasn’t so serious

Labour’s entire Brexit policy rests on 6 tests which their own Shadow Trade Secretary @BarryGardiner, described as “bollocks”. The idea that you could get the “exact same benefits” from Brexit as membership is mendacious.

What do Labour actually propose ?

They dislike the backstop (which they warn could become permanent) & want to replace it with a permanent customs union. But that's already at the core of backstop which doesn't have a unilateral exit (& so could be permanent if UK wanted)

Then Labour want a customs union which gives us a say over trade policy.

Sadly the EU isn’t willing to offer us that now.

Labour also oppose harmonisation on state aid and competition law which the EU will push for for a customs union.

Labour haven’t endorsed a Norway-style relationship where the UK would remain within the European Economic Area, saying instead that they would prefer a “strong” Single Market deal.

But what would that actually entail?

Would that mean ending Free Movement or not?

Last year the vast majority of Labour MPs backed the bill which gave the Government powers to trigger Article 50. So Labour helped set the country on a conveyer belt where the default is that we leave the EU on 29 March 2019 - deal or not.

The only safe way to guarantee an orderly Brexit is to back the deal that has actually been agreed by the EU.

Minor tweaks are possible, perhaps to secure greater protections for worker’s and environmental rights. Major changes are not on offer.

At some point Labour MPs will have to make a choice. There are only 3 paths:

✖️leave the EU with No Deal
✖️leave the EU with Theresa May’s deal (perhaps with a few tweaks)
✖️don’t leave the EU.

That’s it - any other option is fantasy.

Decision time is coming soon.

Check out @OpenEurope's analysis of Labour's position by @rtshankar and @DomWalsh13

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