Mr Corbyn’s Brexit problem


Mr Jeremy Corbyn is between a rock and a hard place, and Brexit is that special rock and remain that rather instransigent hard place.

For Corbyn the Brexiteers do not value or believe in his Brexit or even Lexit credentials; and for those that do he is rather too left of the maniacal right-wing brexit project, too left-wing to be credible; and clearly his supposed “half-hearted” campaigning for remain, as was his duty on behalf of the Labour Party’s official party, was not “half-hearted” enough, nor was it as inconspicuous as it should have been. It is fair to say he is an EU skeptic, many Brexiteers would argue, but he probably isn’t one of ‘us’, they might claim.

Then you have the Remainers at large, who consider Corbyn’s EU skepticism, Lexit tendencies, his apparent “half-hearted” and apparently fairly inconspicuous remain campaigning to just be too Brexity, for their liking. His remain credentials are therefore also in doubt.

And then we have Mr Corbyn’s position as leader of the opposition, where MSM has painted him always in a fairly bad light, as continual academic evidence from no lesser an institution as The London School of Economics, which shows that the MSM has had it in for Corbyn since day one, in effect. But the argument has been that Mr Corbyn has not effectively opposed the government’s poor Brexit proposals – which seems to be something both the Brexiteers and Remainers agree on.

Continuing on from this, and digging deeper, we have Labour voters, around 60% of them voted Leave; and around half of Labour constituencies Brexit voting constituencies. So Mr Corbyn has tried to respect their vote, even if that vote was held after highly illegal campaigning by Brexiteers.

On the other side of this are Mr Corbyn’s bred and butter; his in excess of half-a-million party members, who are probably also about 60% remainers. How does he respect the vote of those who elect his party; and also respect the desire for second referendum by those who put money in the party coffers, and predominantly pay for those campaigns that help the party to get elected.

On top of this we have Corbyn supporting MPs who fit into both camps.

Now my solution is not the one Mr Corbyn will follow, no one likes or supports the idea of a preferential voting referendum; and yet that is probably the only way to actually find out effectively what the will of the people actually is.

What Mr Corbyn has, until this point, done rather effectively is represent both sides fairly well, he’s managed to toe the line of supporting neither side more than the other; and it also because he has walked this tight-rope that he is in this position. His way out of it? I’m not sure, but perhaps we will find out soon enough. From a purely tactical perspective, the moves he has made, the loosing-but-virteous gestures made and words spoken, are tactically, politically, a master-class; but it doesn’t feel like that.

Primarily because some politicians have been dealt the “easy hand” – which is now for them, getting harder. I think of the illustrious First Minister of Scotland (Nicola Sturgeon) who has been able to campaign against Brexit and to remain, because that helps her narrative – this might become more difficult for her soon.

Mr Corbyn’s line has had to be concillitory, and circumspect, to win points for both sides. But in this day and age that just looks like fence sitting. Or because of your own viewpoint as winning and campaign for the “other side”. So Mr Corbyn although politically acting like a genius, has not be understood to be as brilliant as his movements in this sphere has actually been. And until he is seen to clearly pick a side he will continue to get it in the neck from everyone.

Mr Corbyn has deftly played the hand he has been given; and respect for that should be given. Mr Corbyn has also tried to steer the narrative in another direction, perhaps to the wider issue. Why did people vote remain?

Was it to “regain sovereignty”; was it to “kick” the establishment? Was it a protest against how awful our politics has been, arguably since the departure of Gordon Brown?

Whatever reason, and there are many given, until a Labour government is in power, and able to deal with the root causes and empower everyone.

Corbyn will continue to be a Brexiteers’ Remainer; and a Remainers’ Brexiteer; placating only his die-hard and die-in-the-wool supporters; and truly placating them so long as they think he’s acting for what they think he believes about Brexit.

And that is nothing compared to the other stick currently beating Labour and Mr Corbyn, the scandal over Antisemitism and just how extensive it actually is, which should be an argument for another day.

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