Saturday, 17 August 2019

Brexit is not their real priority

If Corbyn’s proposal that he should head a temporary government with an agreed short-term remit to deal only with avoiding a no deal Brexit was, as some have suggested, intended as a trap for the new leader of the Lib Dems, then she certainly walked straight into it.  Having said that stopping Brexit was her absolute top priority, rejecting a firm proposal to achieve that end reveals that it isn’t actually her top priority at all – preventing Corbyn from becoming PM, and/or trying to establish the Lib Dems as the ‘purist’ anti-Brexit party are both more important to her.  The Lib Dems prove to be as keen on putting their own narrow party interests first as ever – if they were serious about stopping Brexit, they’d have immediately accepted the idea of negotiating and raised their concerns or put forward alternatives in those discussions.
Having said that, for Labour to gloat over having so badly wrong-footed her isn’t so clever either.  After also claiming that their top priority is stopping no deal, their move – coupled with an apparent refusal to consider alternative possibilities – reveals that they have higher priorities as well, namely getting Corbyn into Number 10 and smashing the Lib Dem revival.  If they were serious about stopping Johnson’s no deal, they’d have put their proposal on the table and indicated that they saw it as a starting point for an adult discussion, rather than as a trap for the Lib Dems.
As to the substance, well the Lib Dem leader does actually have a point.  There must be serious doubts as to how many of the rebel Tories and newly independent MPs who want to stop no-deal would support a vote of no confidence if the result was a Corbyn-led government.  That does, in turn, though reveal that those Tories and independents who say stopping a no-deal is the most important thing are fibbing as much as Labour and Lib Dems are, because they, too, have a higher priority, namely not being seen to aid Corbyn into Downing Street.  Having spent years demonising him for being something which he is not, they are now unable to exercise the necessary flexibility.  And Swinson’s point is of only limited validity anyway – for every Tory MP who won’t countenance even a single purpose short-term government led by Corbyn, there’s going to be a Labour MP who won’t countenance a single purpose short-term government led by someone other than the leader of their party.  Their opposition to putting a veteran Tory like Ken Clarke at the head of such a government is only what one might expect; but, in typical Labour style, their opposition to putting a different Labour MP at the head is even stronger for many of them.
So, there we have it – three disparate groups, all claiming that their highest priority is stopping no-deal Brexit, all in reality placing more importance on two entirely different questions, namely who is PM and where does the best advantage for their party lie.  Unless at least one of those groups starts to behave like a group of adults and recognises that the important thing here is the remit of any temporary government, not its figurehead nor their respective positioning once the dust has settled, then the Brextremists will win by default.  They have no need to behave like adults or win any arguments; their only requirement for success is that the clear parliamentary majority against their policy remains divided over the peripheral issue of personality.  At the moment, sadly, my head tells me that the Brexiteers are more likely to win if stopping them demands adult behaviour from their opponents.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sound points. Most interesting.