British PM Under Pressure to Bremain for a While Longer
The Labour Party in the UK has shifted position and is now in favour of a significantly softer Brexit. It recently emerged that shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are pushing for continued membership of the single European Union market after March 2019. Recall that Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, effectively beginning the countdown to Britain’s extrication from the EU. Now that the Labour leader has done an about turn, his constituents are having to digest this new approach.
The Hard & Soft Brexit Saga
The purported soft Brexit favours an approach that is antithetical to the concept of a Brexit itself – the maintenance of the political and economic framework that allows Britain to continue operating in the single economic area. The Brexit referendum – 52%/48% – in favour of breaking from the EU was a watershed moment for the EU and Britain. It resulted in a snap election that saw the British PM fail to consolidate her power and lose traction with the electorate. If Labour gets its way, the transitionary period for Britain to remain part of the EU should continue for an additional 4 years. This means the UK’s exit from the EU may become an election campaign issue for 2022.
Currently, the Tories have a working majority in the House of Commons of just 13 seats. While Tories are reluctant to side with Labour on a major issue like a Brexit, there is a growing appetite for a soft Brexit. According to Labour, the UK would maintain the EU’s rules of free movement, and the ECJ (European Court of Justice) rule of law would prevail. Additionally, the UK would be required to continue making payments to the European Union budget for many years after the Brexit kicks in. This is unlikely to gain traction with Britons, but it is being touted by Labour leader Corbyn.
Can Labour Score an Upset Victory over the Tories in 2022?
There are concerns that Labour constituents in outlying areas will not support these liberal tenets, for fear of losing ground on the immigration issue. Many Britons voted specifically for Brexit on the basis of greater control over Britain’s borders, Labour and Conservative alike. In order for this new policy to gain support, it will need to clearly address the new immigration policy in the UK, including benefits (welfare, unemployment, etc.).
Outside of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton, Penzance, Leeds and other cities across England, Labour is desperate to hold onto its seats, and cannot afford to risk alienating voters by adopting an ultra-left policy. Various members of Parliament agree that there are simply not enough ‘Bremain voters’ in metropolitan areas for Labour to win the election.
Can a Labour Government Soften the EU Leadership?
Now that an additional round of Brexit talks has been completed in Brussels, Labour has changed its position. Brexit secretary David Davis has been working hard to try and compel Michel Barnier to discuss future-oriented trade relations between the EU and the UK. However, the EU negotiator is determined not to show his hand until the Brexit deal is signed, sealed and delivered. The European perspective is essentially one which eschews any concessions or leniency with Britain until it is effectively out of the EU.
It is seeking a completely renegotiated settlement with Britain without the single area benefits the UK currently enjoys. The northern towns and outlying areas of the UK are particularly vulnerable with the soft Brexit stance adopted by Corbyn. On the flip side, there is a degree of optimism about a softening in the stance towards the Brexit saga. The Bremain campaigners are heartened by this new position, and it is likely that Labour would be able to placate the EU leadership to allow a more favourable deal for the UK to remain in the EU with greater controls on immigration and borders.
The EU is seeking a ‘transitional deal’ that is good for the European Union. For now, EU member states are unlikely to oppose an extension of Britain’s membership of the EU, provided Britain will have no voting rights or say in EU affairs. The UK will likely continue making payments to support the single economic area, but will enjoy a degree of leniency in the transitionary period after March 2019. A Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, is buoyed by the jobs first-style Brexit approach which temporarily guarantees Britain’s membership of the single economic area and customs union.
Do you think Labour’s position on Brexit is likely to gain support among constituents? Chime in with your thoughts.
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About Brett Chatz
Brett Chatz is a graduate of the University of South Africa, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with Economics and Strategic management as his major subjects. Nowadays Brett contributes from his vast expertise in online trading for spreadbettingreview.co.uk.