The lamentable Wes Streeting appeared on Sky News today to complain – yawn – about Labour’s position on Brexit.
In a nonsensical interview, Streeting complained that a Labour amendment to retain access to the EU internal market has no chance of passing – but claimed that an amendment to remain fully in the single market via the European Economic Area (EEA) could pass – and, of course, that it would be Corbyn’s fault if it doesn’t because, Streeting thinks, Labour should whip the vote to support the EEA amendment:
Sky’s Faisal Islam quickly points out that the EEA amendment is unlikely to get past a number of Labour MPs – several, such as Frank Field, would be almost certain to vote against it regardless. Certainly there are enough anti-EU Labour MPs to defeat such an amendment, which they and a lot of working-class Labour voters would consider a back-door attempt to neuter Brexit.
Undeterred, Streeting – whose lawyers have still not responded to the SKWAWKBOX’s rejection of their demand to remove this blog’s thoroughly-evidenced article about his screaming fit at Labour front-bencher Diane Abbott – persisted in his delusion about the EEA amendment.
Corbyn’s ‘access’ amendment – which Streeting admitted he will be supporting – is far more intelligent, nuanced and respectful of those who voted to leave the EU. The same is true of Corbyn’s entire handling of the thorny Brexit issue, as even the BBC had to admit last year – while the ‘centrist’ determination to overturn Brexit has been damaging, as the loss of former UKIP votes to the Tories in some areas during May’s local elections compared to last year’s general election shows.
It’s hard not to see such behaviour by so-called ‘moderates’ as all part of the cynical right-wing determination to undermine Corbyn’s leadership.
But there is bad news for Wes and his colleagues of like mind. Arch-remainer and avowed Corbyn-underminer Peter Mandelson has put the blame for Brexit squarely on the shoulders, not of Jeremy Corbyn, but of Tony Blair and his ‘New Labour’ – and of Wes and his ilk.
In July 2016, as centrists prepared to try to remove Corbyn from the leader’s office, Peter Mandelson gave a lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. Alex Hilton attended it and wrote his account of the lecture the following day.
He described Mandelson’s discussion of where the blame lies for Brexit:
But Corbyn doesn’t even wobble the needle on [Mandelson’s] gauge of responsibility for Brexit, the number one pretext for this month’s coup attempt. Instead he explicitly lays responsibility at two generations of New Labour; the founders for their lack of foresight as to the consequences of globalisation and the current centrists for failing to adapt, having seen those consequences.
No video of the lecture appears to be available online. But there is video of Mandelson speaking in similar terms, also in Singapore, a couple of months later:
Brexit is, without question, a complex and incendiary issue – not just in terms of achieving a deal but in terms of the potential electoral consequences of taking the wrong stance or path – but Corbyn’s intelligent handling of that issue has been recognised even by the Tory-dominated BBC.
By contrast, Labour’s Brexit-fixated back-benchers are damaging the party by constantly blundering into positions that are not only politically foolish but unwinnable – and they are failing even to recognise the fact that Corbyn’s smart tactics are only necessary because of their own past failure to recognise or care how badly removed from and arrogant towards working-class voters they had become, both in government and since.
And that failure continues unabated.
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