On Monday morning, Jeremy Corbyn is scheduled to make a speech at which media commentators expect he will announce that Labour plan to remain in ‘a customs union’ (note: not the Customs Union) with the EU after Brexit.
Although the mainstream media (MSM) have flagged this as a change or shift in Labour’s stance, it is in fact what Labour has been saying in one form or another since not long after the referendum – that being in ‘the Customs Union’ is not possible when Britain leaves the EU, but that ‘a’ customs union is desirable.
Over a month ago, the remain group ‘Open Britain’ was criticising Corbyn for exactly that stance:
The claim of a ‘shift’ – and the accompanying talk of Tory rebellions and government defeats – look like attempts to raise unrealistic expectations among remain supporters and to create anti-Labour sentiment among Leavers, rather than any realistic analysis. With a number of anti-EU Labour MPs, a Tory rebellion big enough to defeat the government is incredibly unlikely.
Which sheds an interesting light on an email leaked to the SKWAWKBOX, showing that the BBC has asked a limited company with strong links to UKIP and the Tory party to provide pro-Brexit ‘Labour‘ commenters for on-camera interviews after Corbyn’s speech tomorrow:
Labour Leave is a private limited company registered at Companies House. It is run by John Mills, who was also a director of Vote Leave alongside UKIP’s Suzanne Evans, Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, former Tory Party Treasurer Peter Cruddas and others.
That is not the company’s only UKIP link. Electoral Commission records show that it made a donation of £18,500 to UKIP during the referendum campaign.
That’s not all – according to Left Foot Forward, the company is funded by Tory donors and Vote Leave.
And the BBC has asked it to provide supporters – who will no doubt be presented as typical pro-Brexit Labour members – to comment on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech.
The SKWAWKBOX provided the above information to the BBC and asked it to explain why it was asking a private limited company with strong links to right-wing pro-Brexit groups to provide ‘Labour’ comment.
The BBC responded that no comment would be available tonight and that it would be unlikely to comment at all on “speech coverage plans ahead of broadcast“.
‘Centrist’ Labour figures have been none-too-subtly positioning themselves to claim credit for the ‘shift’-that-isn’t-a-shift if Corbyn’s announcement is in line with MSM expectations tomorrow – and the BBC is lining up Leavers to comment who may provide opinions more aligned with UKIP than with that of Labour Brexit supporters.
At best, the decision to use the avenue it has chosen for obtaining Labour pro-Brexit comment tomorrow is highly questionable.
If the BBC does not know the Labour Leave company’s lack of status with the Labour Party, the Corporation committed a gross failure in competence.
And if it is aware of Labour Leave’s lack of status with the Labour Party, it has committed a gross breach of its impartiality and balance obligations.
Many Labour supporters want to remain, or at least to have the softest Brexit possible. Many Labour supporters are also committed Brexit supporters. Accessing authentic comment from both sections of the party – and from those who feel Brexit is a distraction from the real priority of bringing about Labour government – is in no way difficult.
So this smells suspiciously like a stitch-up – a ‘pincer movement’ – to create a lose/lose scenario in which Labour is damaged with remain supporters and brexiteers, regardless of the content of Monday’s speech.
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