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Labour’s lost love for Leave Why has the Left stopped making the case for Brexit?

"Corbyn ultimately failed to 'sell' Brexit to the Labour Party" (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

"Corbyn ultimately failed to 'sell' Brexit to the Labour Party" (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)


February 1, 2023   6 mins

Bregrets? I don’t have many. I still believe leaving the European Union was the right decision, however difficult and imperfect the process has thus far been. This belief, admittedly, puts me at odds with a growing majority of the British public, especially among my fellow Labour Party supporters. Back in 2016, one in three people who voted Labour at the previous year’s general election voted for Brexit. Today, polling for UnHerd shows that just 15% of Labour voters think the UK was right to leave. Of course, in those intervening years, there has been enormous churn in the Labour electorate, with sizeable defections by Labour Leavers at the last election to the Brexit Party and the Conservatives. Nonetheless, UnHerd’s polling shows that support for Brexit has dropped significantly in Labour’s historic heartlands in the North and Midlands.

In historical terms, this is a striking shift. For four decades, the Labour Party was the chief Eurosceptic party in British politics — far more so than the Conservative Party. Every Labour leader between Clement Attlee and Neil Kinnock had expressed opposition to joining (or support for leaving) the European Economic Community (EEC) at some point as a frontbench Labour MP. The first truly pro-European Labour leader was John Smith, who defied a three-line whip in 1972 to vote for the Conservatives’ European Communities Act. Pro-Europeanism was viewed as a Right-wing project — an attempt to constitutionalise capitalist principles in ways that would curtail the power of socialist governments to plan their national economies as they saw fit.

In the late Eighties, Labour finally abandoned its opposition to EEC membership, though the change was driven more by a response to repeated domestic defeats than a principled embrace of the European project. The promise of a “social Europe” was regarded by many Labour MPs as a chimera, but it at least offered some alternative to Thatcherism. So the party came to accept supranational legal limits on British governments, hoping the EU could mitigate the excesses of Conservative rule. Yet this Mephistophelian deal meant placing limits on future Labour governments, too. Policy tools which had once been fundamental to previous governments’ socialist programmes — trade policy, currency management, state aid and nationalisation, and capital and labour controls — were all sacrificed in exchange for the promise of minimum labour standards and regional development funds delivered through European institutions, rather than Whitehall.

Over time, more stridently pro-EU voices grew within the Labour ranks, but there was a sizeable contingent of Labour MPs even during the New Labour years who were sceptical of EU membership. Few outwardly advocated leaving the bloc, believing it to be too difficult or simply not politically feasible, but many argued against deeper integration, opposed the single currency, and raised concerns about European judges limiting labour rights. One of them, of course, was Jeremy Corbyn.

Even during the 2016 referendum itself, there was more openness to the Labour Leave argument. It’s not a coincidence that a third of people who voted for Ed Miliband to be prime minister then voted to leave the EU. For the most part, it was only after the Brexit vote that Remain voters started reacting with varying levels of horror and disgust to the idea that someone on the Left could vote for Leave. I have always found this viewpoint rather perplexing. My own arguments for leaving the EU were rooted in three core principles: democracy, socialism, and internationalism. They are both the reason I am a Labour supporter and why I was — and continue to be — a Brexit supporter.

Joining the EEC in 1972, for instance, took a variety of national powers out of the hands of the UK Government and, by extension, parliament. EU countries are constitutionally transformed from nation-states to member-states, as the Cambridge academic Chris Bickerton has explained. This means that a variety of policy instruments are removed from national governments altogether, or their implementation becomes contingent on the wishes of the European Commission or interpretations of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Perhaps more obviously, EU membership is simply not compatible with a belief in socialist planning. At its core, the Single Market is designed to limit the power of national electorates to plan their own economies. Of course, a certain degree of national economic planning is permitted within EU membership, but it is conditional. Any time a national government takes a decision that is viewed as distorting the hallowed Single Market — which must be prioritised above all else — those policies are blocked.

Additionally, EU membership sits uneasily with genuine internationalism. Some of the most vocal Labour MPs to campaign against racism, colonialism, and global inequality — including Barbara Castle, Judith Hart, Joan Lestor, and Anne Kerr — were all staunch Eurosceptics. They condemned the EEC as a “neo-colonial” project, which created “a circle of privilege” for the “white tribes of Europe”. They believed it morally reprehensible that some of the richest, most privileged countries in the world should club together and create a superior form of citizenship in order to further enrich themselves.

Finally, the EU’s governing institutions remain mostly obscure and untransparent. We still don’t actually know which MEPs voted to make the Right-wing German politician Ursula von der Leyen President of the European Commission. Even worse, from a socialist perspective, European judges have struck down labour practices that they claim impose onerous restrictions on business, as in the infamous cases Laval and Viking. The former limited Swedish trade unions insisting on higher working conditions for construction workers from Latvia who operated in Sweden. The latter prevented a Finnish transport union from taking action against Viking Line for reclassifying their workers under the flag of a lower-wage EU country to ignore Finnish collective bargaining. Because these judgements are based on judicial interpretation of fundamental EU treaty rights, no legislation, either at a national level or from MEPs, can overturn them.

So, if the EU has all these obviously egregious impacts on the goals of the Left, then why have so many Labour Leavers seemingly given up on Brexit? Part of the reason, it seems to me, is that the Labour Party has totally and catastrophically vacated the post-Brexit policy space to the Right. Initially, there did seem to be some interest from members of the Corbyn Shadow Cabinet to think about the opportunities Brexit might provide for a Labour government. Corbyn himself spoke passionately about forming trade agreements with countries in the Global South that would benefit and support their economic development, rather than exploit them. Given his uniquely strong connection with the grassroots party membership and his own history of opposition to EU integration, Corbyn ultimately failed to “sell” Brexit to the Labour Party.

Indeed, there are so many areas of policy where Labour ought to have spent the last few years seriously thinking about the post-Brexit opportunities. How can we use procurement better now that we are out of the Single Market? How can we follow the example of Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Act to provide economic stimulus through publicly supported domestic manufacturing? Can we use the increased income from no longer subsidising European university students to support students from poorer countries instead? What would a socialist trade policy look like, once protection of continental European industries and agriculture is removed from the equation?

Instead, Labour has wasted the years since Brexit almost as much as the Tories have. Labour had stood on a manifesto in the 2017 election which promised to take the UK out of the EU, Single Market, and Customs Union. That election saw the biggest increase in its vote since the 1945 General Election and the only net gain in Labour seats since 1997. A majority of the seats Labour won in England were Leave-voting seats off the Tories.

But then the surprise hung Parliament gave hope to certain Remainers. It didn’t matter that every household in the country had been told that the outcome of the referendum would be honoured. Facilitated by Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, Labour MPs — with a few honourable exceptions — did everything they could to stop the implementation of the Leave vote. As a party member my entire adult life, it was the closest I have ever been to quitting.

Today, though, the Labour Party has apparently embraced Brexit thanks to Starmer’s post-2019 Damascene conversion. But the reality is that Labour is still not making the case for Brexit on Labour terms. Virtually every time a Labour politician speaks about Brexit, it is framed as an attempt to mitigate the damage. Labour’s underlying assumption is that Brexit has failed because the UK has diverged too much from the EU. A better Brexit is one closer to the EU. But, the reality is that the UK has not diverged enough from the limitations which EU membership placed on national economic planning.

There is much to cheer about Brexit from a Left-wing perspective, but very few are brave enough to express that view. My regret is not Brexit — but that Labour has failed to rediscover its historic love for it.


Richard Johnson is a Lecturer in US Politics and Policy at Queen Mary University of London.

richardmarcj

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Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

“…if the EU has all these obviously egregious impacts on the goals of the Left, then why have so many Labour Leavers seemingly given up on Brexit? Part of the reason, it seems to me, is that the Labour Party has totally and catastrophically vacated the post-Brexit policy space to the Right…”

I don’t agree with this conclusion at all I’m afraid. The real reason is much starker: the Labour party of today is not in any way shape or form the Labour party of it’s roots, or even of three decades ago. Your instinctive alignment with Labour, as mine with the Conservatives, is now a mirage. Both parties have undergone metamorphoses so great, that nothing remains of the original except the shell and the name that still clings to them. For example, what on earth has happened to the UK Left, that it no longer buys into civil liberties? This is no longer a Left or Right that I recognise.

In my case, the horrific realisation dawned through both parties reactions to the pandemic and it’s aftermath, but snapped into focus when first Johnson and then Truss were ousted, followed by ensconcing Hunt as the power behind the scenes. It’s like discovering you are chained to an alien zombie corpse, and my frenzied and horrified reaction in response, is to attempt to chew my own leg off in a bid to escape. It’s like scenes from ‘The Thing’, or from ‘Annihilation’ – the entity that has taken you over has mimicked your base genetics to such an extent that it itself identifies as you, all the way to mirroring your self destructive actions so it too self destructs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Prashant Kotak
AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It is shocking to realise that we are living in the age of machine politics – the voters are just a coin toss to decide who heads the machine. Whoever you vote for the Government gets in.
Generally machine politics grind on until the corruption of the political ideology becomes too great. Are we there yet?

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Probably not. There’s a powerful support mechanism keeping it all going: Big Money.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Probably not. There’s a powerful support mechanism keeping it all going: Big Money.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It’s simple, really. Having lost Scotland Labour has to win the home counties. Working and small business people can go hang.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Successive crises and the economic revolution post 1970s have morphed Labour wholly away from its roots in the mass working class unionized movement. Such a party naturally would want to fight a global capitalist club like the modern EU. It is hysterically funny to see armies of modern Leftie Remainers bend the knee to Mrs Thatcher’s great creation – the single market- which basically smashed and shattered national labour markets!!! I bet the barons of German industry chuckle daily at the astonishing support the Left give to Global Capitalisms No 1 Club. What ignorance!!!! Labour today is an urban white collar public sector club full of pious class war progressives and students who would shriek if they saw a coal blackened miner face. It is a shallow empty vessel. Its total ideological void after the death of socialism and the Torys surrender to welfarism is filled only with strident toxic identitarianism and grabbing the colour green to justify Soviet style of red state spending.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

 Labour today is an urban white collar public sector club full of pious class war progressives and students who would shriek if they saw a coal blackened miner face.
They’d probably have a go at the miner for “cultural appropriation” and make him a case study for their diversity training.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I laughed at your last sentence because, unfortunately, it’s true.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago

Me too!!!!

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago

Me too!!!!

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I fear you are correct. But who am I going to vote for – the Liberals?!
PR would go a long way towards solving the stupid binary system we currently have. Till then Labour will be the natural home of the anti-tory vote.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I laughed at your last sentence because, unfortunately, it’s true.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Hibbert

I fear you are correct. But who am I going to vote for – the Liberals?!
PR would go a long way towards solving the stupid binary system we currently have. Till then Labour will be the natural home of the anti-tory vote.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

 Labour today is an urban white collar public sector club full of pious class war progressives and students who would shriek if they saw a coal blackened miner face.
They’d probably have a go at the miner for “cultural appropriation” and make him a case study for their diversity training.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It is shocking to realise that we are living in the age of machine politics – the voters are just a coin toss to decide who heads the machine. Whoever you vote for the Government gets in.
Generally machine politics grind on until the corruption of the political ideology becomes too great. Are we there yet?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It’s simple, really. Having lost Scotland Labour has to win the home counties. Working and small business people can go hang.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Successive crises and the economic revolution post 1970s have morphed Labour wholly away from its roots in the mass working class unionized movement. Such a party naturally would want to fight a global capitalist club like the modern EU. It is hysterically funny to see armies of modern Leftie Remainers bend the knee to Mrs Thatcher’s great creation – the single market- which basically smashed and shattered national labour markets!!! I bet the barons of German industry chuckle daily at the astonishing support the Left give to Global Capitalisms No 1 Club. What ignorance!!!! Labour today is an urban white collar public sector club full of pious class war progressives and students who would shriek if they saw a coal blackened miner face. It is a shallow empty vessel. Its total ideological void after the death of socialism and the Torys surrender to welfarism is filled only with strident toxic identitarianism and grabbing the colour green to justify Soviet style of red state spending.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

“…if the EU has all these obviously egregious impacts on the goals of the Left, then why have so many Labour Leavers seemingly given up on Brexit? Part of the reason, it seems to me, is that the Labour Party has totally and catastrophically vacated the post-Brexit policy space to the Right…”

I don’t agree with this conclusion at all I’m afraid. The real reason is much starker: the Labour party of today is not in any way shape or form the Labour party of it’s roots, or even of three decades ago. Your instinctive alignment with Labour, as mine with the Conservatives, is now a mirage. Both parties have undergone metamorphoses so great, that nothing remains of the original except the shell and the name that still clings to them. For example, what on earth has happened to the UK Left, that it no longer buys into civil liberties? This is no longer a Left or Right that I recognise.

In my case, the horrific realisation dawned through both parties reactions to the pandemic and it’s aftermath, but snapped into focus when first Johnson and then Truss were ousted, followed by ensconcing Hunt as the power behind the scenes. It’s like discovering you are chained to an alien zombie corpse, and my frenzied and horrified reaction in response, is to attempt to chew my own leg off in a bid to escape. It’s like scenes from ‘The Thing’, or from ‘Annihilation’ – the entity that has taken you over has mimicked your base genetics to such an extent that it itself identifies as you, all the way to mirroring your self destructive actions so it too self destructs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Prashant Kotak
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

An excellent article. Too often the Left-leaning Brexiteer is forgotten, when the chattering classes want to brand us all as racist little-Enganders (no racist little-Welshman, I notice although they voted to leave also). It never occurs that such voters, of which I am one, (and even many right-leaning voters) voted to leave because of the entire non-democratic, opaque structure which is the EU. No-one expected there not to be some hiccups, and some short-term financial problems, but the problems that we are experiencing are a combination of the Lab/Lib/SNP “coalition’s” attempts to thwart the result. plus a pandemic, plus a war.

There may well have been some principled people who voted to remain, but whenever I hear complaints it usually of the sort that they’ll have difficulties getting to their villas in Spain or farm-houses in Tuscany. I also heard some youngsters, who would have not know a time before the EU, actually saying to me, before the referendum, that they wouldn’t be able to go to the continent, even on holiday, without visa and maybe not at all, and wouldn’t be able to use the Interrail pass anymore; it was difficult to disabuse them of these false ideas that they had. Of course, many were, understandably, afraid of the unknown, and there were others who wanted to be “on the right side of history”. There were still others who didn’t want to “get into bed” with Nigel Farage; I did argue that sometime,s even if you disagree with someone on many other points, you can agree on one point, and that doesn’t make you some sort of traitor to your cause. However, my general impression was no-one had anything positive to say about remaining, I will say that I was honestly looking for someone who could convince me that staying was the better option, for positive reasons, not negative ones.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Well put Linda. I’m baffled as to why socialists would support the white trade fortress of the EU, except for the reasons of entitlement for their champagne socialist elite. I have similar motivations to his in wishing to see Brexit free us to lead the world – and we have on vaccines and Ukraine. Commonwealth next please.

Interesting that you say opaque but the writer uses ‘untransparent”! Potato, potaatto 🙂

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Do you think that the world is clamouring for Britain to come and lead it? Or do you just think that the people of Britain are so much smarter and cleverer than the rest or humanity that it is obvious you would manage better than anyone else on the planet if the EU was not holding you back?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s about self-determination, and not being part of the empire-building that the EU is engaging in.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Wow Rasmus you have a real downer on the U.K.
In answer to your question, I don’t think we’re any cleverer than anyone else, and the world isn’t clamouring for our leadership. But, due to our history and some luck (in leaving the EU at the right time), we are in a fantastic place to provide help to those who would like help through the commonwealth organisation; and our new independence meant we could decide to take action when our people wanted it – developing vaccines; supporting Ukraine.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s about self-determination, and not being part of the empire-building that the EU is engaging in.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Wow Rasmus you have a real downer on the U.K.
In answer to your question, I don’t think we’re any cleverer than anyone else, and the world isn’t clamouring for our leadership. But, due to our history and some luck (in leaving the EU at the right time), we are in a fantastic place to provide help to those who would like help through the commonwealth organisation; and our new independence meant we could decide to take action when our people wanted it – developing vaccines; supporting Ukraine.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Do you think that the world is clamouring for Britain to come and lead it? Or do you just think that the people of Britain are so much smarter and cleverer than the rest or humanity that it is obvious you would manage better than anyone else on the planet if the EU was not holding you back?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Well put Linda. I’m baffled as to why socialists would support the white trade fortress of the EU, except for the reasons of entitlement for their champagne socialist elite. I have similar motivations to his in wishing to see Brexit free us to lead the world – and we have on vaccines and Ukraine. Commonwealth next please.

Interesting that you say opaque but the writer uses ‘untransparent”! Potato, potaatto 🙂

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

An excellent article. Too often the Left-leaning Brexiteer is forgotten, when the chattering classes want to brand us all as racist little-Enganders (no racist little-Welshman, I notice although they voted to leave also). It never occurs that such voters, of which I am one, (and even many right-leaning voters) voted to leave because of the entire non-democratic, opaque structure which is the EU. No-one expected there not to be some hiccups, and some short-term financial problems, but the problems that we are experiencing are a combination of the Lab/Lib/SNP “coalition’s” attempts to thwart the result. plus a pandemic, plus a war.

There may well have been some principled people who voted to remain, but whenever I hear complaints it usually of the sort that they’ll have difficulties getting to their villas in Spain or farm-houses in Tuscany. I also heard some youngsters, who would have not know a time before the EU, actually saying to me, before the referendum, that they wouldn’t be able to go to the continent, even on holiday, without visa and maybe not at all, and wouldn’t be able to use the Interrail pass anymore; it was difficult to disabuse them of these false ideas that they had. Of course, many were, understandably, afraid of the unknown, and there were others who wanted to be “on the right side of history”. There were still others who didn’t want to “get into bed” with Nigel Farage; I did argue that sometime,s even if you disagree with someone on many other points, you can agree on one point, and that doesn’t make you some sort of traitor to your cause. However, my general impression was no-one had anything positive to say about remaining, I will say that I was honestly looking for someone who could convince me that staying was the better option, for positive reasons, not negative ones.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Jim Jam
Jim Jam
1 year ago

Good luck getting your average modern Labour member or supporter to back a campaign charecterised by working class folk waving Union flags. For them it was disgust and fear that determined their stance – everything else that followed was merely post-hoc rationalisation.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Jam
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

At the last election there were few or no Labour posters to be seen in East Barnet, but in Highgate, where house prices are almost exclusively in the millions, it seemed like every building was festooned with them.

This is disturbing not just because of what it says about Labour but also because it indicates the extent to which the middle class has become dependent on the state for its wealth.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Correct. I am astonished that the root cause of a deranged vitriolic Remaina is not more widely understood. Remainia was and is rooted in the determination of the metro property owning class (1997-) to preserve the untaxed fruits of a rigged property market which made every owner in a half decent area a property millionaire. This was a socio- economic and class revolution, triggering appalling regional inequity. This calculated heist was dependent on the EU status quo – firstly, the uncontrolled 600000 plus migrants guaranteeing demand (shattering the public sector of course but who cares? One has private health now). Our entire political class, cosy in their now 3/4m Islington homes, then made sure we built zero houses to accomodate. Demand/Supply Sorted. And hey presto! You have a new class of super rich Remainiacs desperate to preserve a Midas Machine of Bricks and potcode, wholly unlinked to merit or work. Base naked ugly greed is the unacknowledged root of Remainia. They waved EU flags and hissed with hatred toward uneducated racyist northern gammons but knew and cared sod all the EU Empire itself. Remember this when these pious creepy supposedly pro EU pour venom on Brexit. You have fooled no one. We know.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Yes. I think historians of the future will view remainers as the most brutal generation of elite class warriors that this country has so far produced. They’re far worse than the old aristocracy, who at least had some concern for the wider good.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Yes. I think historians of the future will view remainers as the most brutal generation of elite class warriors that this country has so far produced. They’re far worse than the old aristocracy, who at least had some concern for the wider good.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Absolutely the same here. Come election time, you’d barely know there was an election on, this is a neighbourhood more inclined to hang their England flags in their windows than to indulge in political posturing.

However, if I walk down towards the sea into the land of detached houses and range rovers, come election time everything is draped with labour or green party signs.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Correct. I am astonished that the root cause of a deranged vitriolic Remaina is not more widely understood. Remainia was and is rooted in the determination of the metro property owning class (1997-) to preserve the untaxed fruits of a rigged property market which made every owner in a half decent area a property millionaire. This was a socio- economic and class revolution, triggering appalling regional inequity. This calculated heist was dependent on the EU status quo – firstly, the uncontrolled 600000 plus migrants guaranteeing demand (shattering the public sector of course but who cares? One has private health now). Our entire political class, cosy in their now 3/4m Islington homes, then made sure we built zero houses to accomodate. Demand/Supply Sorted. And hey presto! You have a new class of super rich Remainiacs desperate to preserve a Midas Machine of Bricks and potcode, wholly unlinked to merit or work. Base naked ugly greed is the unacknowledged root of Remainia. They waved EU flags and hissed with hatred toward uneducated racyist northern gammons but knew and cared sod all the EU Empire itself. Remember this when these pious creepy supposedly pro EU pour venom on Brexit. You have fooled no one. We know.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Absolutely the same here. Come election time, you’d barely know there was an election on, this is a neighbourhood more inclined to hang their England flags in their windows than to indulge in political posturing.

However, if I walk down towards the sea into the land of detached houses and range rovers, come election time everything is draped with labour or green party signs.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

At the last election there were few or no Labour posters to be seen in East Barnet, but in Highgate, where house prices are almost exclusively in the millions, it seemed like every building was festooned with them.

This is disturbing not just because of what it says about Labour but also because it indicates the extent to which the middle class has become dependent on the state for its wealth.

Jim Jam
Jim Jam
1 year ago

Good luck getting your average modern Labour member or supporter to back a campaign charecterised by working class folk waving Union flags. For them it was disgust and fear that determined their stance – everything else that followed was merely post-hoc rationalisation.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Jam
Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
1 year ago

The Labour party is no longer the party of the working class. It’s the party of the wealthy Guardian-reader. They are trustafarians or “work” in some public-sector sinecure. They’re concerned about their skiing holiday or trips to their Tuscan villas being less convenient because of those nasty gammons. Brexit meant that for the first time in their entitled, smug, pointless lives they didn’t get their own way, and they were, and still are, determined to destroy it.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
1 year ago

The Labour party is no longer the party of the working class. It’s the party of the wealthy Guardian-reader. They are trustafarians or “work” in some public-sector sinecure. They’re concerned about their skiing holiday or trips to their Tuscan villas being less convenient because of those nasty gammons. Brexit meant that for the first time in their entitled, smug, pointless lives they didn’t get their own way, and they were, and still are, determined to destroy it.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

You witnessed the most abject betrayal of democracy seen in Europe in our lifetimes and you ‘came close’ to quitting. Ballsy of you.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s what i thought too! Like those Labour MPs who sit by whilst their female colleagues are physically harrassed by males in the House of Commons. Careers more important than principles? What a surprise.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Or the way Margaret Hodge, Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman were harassed by Labour anti-semites while Keir Starmer did…….what?

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Or the way Margaret Hodge, Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman were harassed by Labour anti-semites while Keir Starmer did…….what?

Michael Davis
Michael Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That is why Boris continues to attract approval and votes
He prevented what amounted to a coup lead by a traitorous speaker, devoid of principles, and a leader of the opposition devoid of principles. To make up for JCs lack of brains he recruited Starmer to do the dirty work. As we have seen since he is also totally devoid of principles
He didn’t consider resigning he fought the blob and the courts and prevailed
and Boris is the one accused of being untrustworthy

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s what i thought too! Like those Labour MPs who sit by whilst their female colleagues are physically harrassed by males in the House of Commons. Careers more important than principles? What a surprise.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Michael Davis
Michael Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That is why Boris continues to attract approval and votes
He prevented what amounted to a coup lead by a traitorous speaker, devoid of principles, and a leader of the opposition devoid of principles. To make up for JCs lack of brains he recruited Starmer to do the dirty work. As we have seen since he is also totally devoid of principles
He didn’t consider resigning he fought the blob and the courts and prevailed
and Boris is the one accused of being untrustworthy

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

You witnessed the most abject betrayal of democracy seen in Europe in our lifetimes and you ‘came close’ to quitting. Ballsy of you.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

Labour is not making the case for Brexit because they intend to re-join the EU, presumably under whatever conditions the EU imposes such as using the Euro.
‘How can we use procurement better now that we are out of the Single Market? How can we follow the example of Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Act to provide economic stimulus through publicly supported domestic manufacturing?’ Manufacturing is for white males. Labour members would prefer to continue buying products from slave factories in Asia.
‘What would a socialist trade policy look like, once protection of continental European industries and agriculture is removed from the equation?’ Labour members aren’t interested in agriculture. They prefer to leave growing and harvesting crops to illegal immigrants working for people traffickers.
Corbyn has the chance in 2016 to open up the debate over the EU and demand the deficiencies over democracy and transparency be addressed. Had he done so, he would now be the most important political figure in Europe and either the current PM or PM in waiting. Instead he preferred not to enlighten the deluded young and to leave them singing his name at Glastonbury.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is anything but…name one noteworthy project resulting from what is just another gross outlay of federal spending lining the coffers of unions. Joe Biden has American taxpayers paying off the pensions of union workers when said taxpayers can hardly put money aside for themselves. Of course unions line the Democrat Party pockets.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

There will be a big price to pay for Biden’s profligacy… $400Billion on student debt paydown, $397 Billion on the ridiculously named Inflation reduction act and to top it all $1 trillion on the Infrastructure renewal bill. The US has reached its debt ceiling and for all American readers your Country will run out of money by August this year at the latest. Janet Yellen a vocal critic of the UK’s “Trussonomics” is eating her own words now.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

There will be a big price to pay for Biden’s profligacy… $400Billion on student debt paydown, $397 Billion on the ridiculously named Inflation reduction act and to top it all $1 trillion on the Infrastructure renewal bill. The US has reached its debt ceiling and for all American readers your Country will run out of money by August this year at the latest. Janet Yellen a vocal critic of the UK’s “Trussonomics” is eating her own words now.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is anything but…name one noteworthy project resulting from what is just another gross outlay of federal spending lining the coffers of unions. Joe Biden has American taxpayers paying off the pensions of union workers when said taxpayers can hardly put money aside for themselves. Of course unions line the Democrat Party pockets.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

Labour is not making the case for Brexit because they intend to re-join the EU, presumably under whatever conditions the EU imposes such as using the Euro.
‘How can we use procurement better now that we are out of the Single Market? How can we follow the example of Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Act to provide economic stimulus through publicly supported domestic manufacturing?’ Manufacturing is for white males. Labour members would prefer to continue buying products from slave factories in Asia.
‘What would a socialist trade policy look like, once protection of continental European industries and agriculture is removed from the equation?’ Labour members aren’t interested in agriculture. They prefer to leave growing and harvesting crops to illegal immigrants working for people traffickers.
Corbyn has the chance in 2016 to open up the debate over the EU and demand the deficiencies over democracy and transparency be addressed. Had he done so, he would now be the most important political figure in Europe and either the current PM or PM in waiting. Instead he preferred not to enlighten the deluded young and to leave them singing his name at Glastonbury.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

The author cites the principles of “democracy, socialism, and internationalism” as reasons why he was both a Leave voter and remains a Labour Party supporter. Very well. I wonder what, then, is his view of the elitist, corporatist, globalist apparatus of hard law top-down global governance that is, literally as we speak, being constructed around the WHO and other UN institutions with the full-throated support of Labour’s Trilateral Commission-member leader? It’s Geneva, not Brussels, that the author ought be worried about if it’s a genuinely progressive, bottom up, liberal democratic socialism that he wants to see.

I would urge Dr Johnson to look into this with the open, enquiring mind of the great academic that I have no doubt he is.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Just because you hate the EU doesn’t mean you have to love the WEF etc. I’d have thought the opposite to be true.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s right, and I have no reason to think that the author does love the WEF etc. But if one is concerned with national sovereignty and democracy in 2023, it makes no sense to be focusing, from the left or the right, on “making the case for Brexit”, when there are much bigger, more relevant fish to fry at the global level.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That’s right, and I have no reason to think that the author does love the WEF etc. But if one is concerned with national sovereignty and democracy in 2023, it makes no sense to be focusing, from the left or the right, on “making the case for Brexit”, when there are much bigger, more relevant fish to fry at the global level.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Just because you hate the EU doesn’t mean you have to love the WEF etc. I’d have thought the opposite to be true.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

The author cites the principles of “democracy, socialism, and internationalism” as reasons why he was both a Leave voter and remains a Labour Party supporter. Very well. I wonder what, then, is his view of the elitist, corporatist, globalist apparatus of hard law top-down global governance that is, literally as we speak, being constructed around the WHO and other UN institutions with the full-throated support of Labour’s Trilateral Commission-member leader? It’s Geneva, not Brussels, that the author ought be worried about if it’s a genuinely progressive, bottom up, liberal democratic socialism that he wants to see.

I would urge Dr Johnson to look into this with the open, enquiring mind of the great academic that I have no doubt he is.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Just one word:

Hallelujah!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Just one word:

Hallelujah!

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

Oh, the hard ones first? It’s simple. Labour would rather stick its genitals into a sausage machine than adopt any policy which conflicts with uncontrolled immigration.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

I knew there was a reason I didnt eat sausages.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

I knew there was a reason I didnt eat sausages.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

Oh, the hard ones first? It’s simple. Labour would rather stick its genitals into a sausage machine than adopt any policy which conflicts with uncontrolled immigration.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago

You are a Lecturer in US Politics. The questions for Americans (especially those who have no clue what The EU actually is) is this:

“Would you want to join an organisation that took (in US terms) $120bn a year from your own services and let people you cannot vote for dictate your laws – you cannot sack and are completely unaccountable to you?” – I know the answer.

And please – nobody give me a lecture on the EU “Parliament democracy” – its nothing of the kind (but puts on a show) as its the unelected Commissioners who have the power. (And blackmail smaller states with funding) If you donr know that you dont know enough.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob drummond
rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago

You are a Lecturer in US Politics. The questions for Americans (especially those who have no clue what The EU actually is) is this:

“Would you want to join an organisation that took (in US terms) $120bn a year from your own services and let people you cannot vote for dictate your laws – you cannot sack and are completely unaccountable to you?” – I know the answer.

And please – nobody give me a lecture on the EU “Parliament democracy” – its nothing of the kind (but puts on a show) as its the unelected Commissioners who have the power. (And blackmail smaller states with funding) If you donr know that you dont know enough.

Last edited 1 year ago by rob drummond
Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

Best article on Brexit I have read for ages. The incompetence of Conservatives has understandably dominated news media – deservedly so as they are the government after all, also the ones who launched the Referendum, with no intent to plan for both outcomes.
But Labour’s curious role – and Starmer’s in particular – in rejecting the 5 options presented to Parrliament by Teresa May, has puzzled me from time to time. Why not abstain on the softest one, allow the vote to pass and watch the Tories implode implementing it?
This article makes it abundantly clear. Labour is still a creature of “New” Labour and the name of the game is Social Europe (paragraph 3) and the destruction of UK two party politics. PM Milliband (D) taking orders from Brussels is no longer an Andrew Adonis wet dream, it’s a distinct likelihood in the next 5 years.
Like terrorists, New Labour only need to get lucky (with a GE vote) once. Then they will exercise any working majority, even via coalition, far more ruthlessly than the Tories did with their straight 80 seat majority.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

Best article on Brexit I have read for ages. The incompetence of Conservatives has understandably dominated news media – deservedly so as they are the government after all, also the ones who launched the Referendum, with no intent to plan for both outcomes.
But Labour’s curious role – and Starmer’s in particular – in rejecting the 5 options presented to Parrliament by Teresa May, has puzzled me from time to time. Why not abstain on the softest one, allow the vote to pass and watch the Tories implode implementing it?
This article makes it abundantly clear. Labour is still a creature of “New” Labour and the name of the game is Social Europe (paragraph 3) and the destruction of UK two party politics. PM Milliband (D) taking orders from Brussels is no longer an Andrew Adonis wet dream, it’s a distinct likelihood in the next 5 years.
Like terrorists, New Labour only need to get lucky (with a GE vote) once. Then they will exercise any working majority, even via coalition, far more ruthlessly than the Tories did with their straight 80 seat majority.