Corbyn’s EU Problem (The Labour Representation Zebra Revisited)

Many Labour people must be consulting their etiquette guides. How long it is polite to wait until it can be party policy to re-join the EU?

There is no question that Corbyn is now in an impossible position. It was never Labour policy to leave the EU. Although Corbyn, in his typically anti-everything M.O., was probably, maybe – if it came down to it – weakly in favour of leaving.

But what can he do now in the face of the referendum result? Well, he could do what he usually does: stand firm behind policies regardless of whether they make him electable. So why doesn’t he do that with Brexit? Because he’s weakly in favour of Brexit? Because he’s trying to be more electable? Because he can’t be bothered to have another tiring argument? Because he wants to reflect the will of the people? (If the last answer feels correct to you what does this say about his other policy stances?)

Whatever the reasoning, Corbyn has decided, untypically, to “go along”. In the long term, this tactic is disastrous. Unless he can make a serious attempt to show he is fiercely against Brexit, in a few years he will find himself accused of the same economic folly as Miliband when he weakly opposed austerity.

In August I wrote about the alternating views within the Labour organisational hierarchy:

PLP: Anti-Corbyn

But looking through the Brexit window, we can see a different arrangement:

LEADERSHIP: Historically and currently weakly pro-Brexit.
PLP: Strongly Anti-Brexit
MEMBERSHIP: Strongly Anti-Brexit
NON-MEMBER LABOUR SUPPORTERS: Mixed, but largely Anti-Brexit

It’s becoming hard to work out who in Labour actually holds the same views as the leadership.


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