2019 is the year that will change many things in the UK; politically, constitutionally, economically, socially. As things stand, the Regressive Revolution that is Brexit will come to pass, and ‘No Deal’ is firmly the most likely outcome. The best-case situation for Wales is ruinous, and the worst-case scenario could well resemble something out of a dystopian novella. If William Hill was offering bets on it, I’d wager on the latter.
For those of us who are Remainers, there is a lot to be angry about, but also a lot of people to be angry with. David Cameron should really be top of the list, as in essence Brexit is his child. Theresa May is an obvious and fair target, seeing as she’s leading us down this path – I would normally have sympathy with someone who claims they’re sincerely doing something for the right reasons, however seeing how things are playing out ‘far-right reasons’ is a more apt wording. The duplicitous and self-serving Johnsons, Rees-Moggs, Arron Banks’ and Farages amongst others deserve our scorn for their part in this sad tale.
The Lexiters – from Dennis Skinner to Len McCluskey- who apparently want to create a socialist utopia outside of the capitalistic EU, are content to start that off by ripping hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of basic workers’ rights off the very people they claim to stand up for.
And let’s not forget the media’s part in all this, consistently giving Brexiteer, liars and frauds a huge amount of publicity and airtime. They have more than played their part in leading us down this path.
However, for me, there is one person, and one party, that deserves particular derision for the facilitation of Brexit, and need to be called out on it: and that’s Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, although for somewhat differing reasons.
It’s only last week, in this Guardian article, that Corbyn finally showed his true colours regarding the EU (and then only partially). Although, to be fair, he did do that for pretty much 30 years before being elected leader of Labour, it’s just that since then getting any opinion from him about Brexit or the EU has eluded everyone. That insinuation alone makes his actual feelings clear.
I can’t be particularly antagonistic towards him for not liking the EU very much or even wanting to leave it. But his insincerity about his actual position is contemptible and his modus operandi for ensuring Brexit dishonourable. He has stalled. He has deliberately offered no alternative. He has made false claims and aimed for “fantastical” Brexit policies. He has made purposefully meaningless gestures. And all the while waited for the clock to count down to the UK leaving the EU.
That, in addition to being willing for ordinary people to pay a terrible price for possibly getting him into government post-Brexit. Ideological rabidity does not a principled person make. But it’s easy to be an ideologue when you have a massive cult backing you up and silencing dissent in the ranks, and deflecting any criticism with vehemence and blindness.
By his own standards, Corbyn’s strategy is actually quite clever. By not categorically expressing his support for Brexit (as obvious as it is), it’s left the Remainers in his own party and also Commons MPs generally with a situation where there aren’t unambiguously defined lines – in this case, the Conservative Government and the Labour leadership vs. the Commons majority.
Even so, the actual ranks of Labour MPs also deserve a hammering for their moral cowardice in not standing up to their leadership on the most important issue of our time. Maybe the promise of forming a Labour government following a Conservative implosion is too tempting; or perhaps the fear of deselection by ordinary members of the now Corbynista-dominated grassroots Labour party if they openly criticise the leader is too much.
Yes, Keir Starmer, Chuka Umunna and many other Labour MPs have contradicted him many a time, but they have stopped very short of truly calling him out on what he’s actually doing on Brexit. Perhaps that isn’t surprising; it was ever thus that the party comes before anything else for Labour. Averting a catastrophe through collaboration with nasty nationalists or some evil Tories isn’t a price worth paying for doing the right thing.
That is possibly the most infuriating element of Brexit for me. The House of Commons has an anti-Brexit majority. However the effort to bring it together has come exclusively from Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the one Green, Caroline Lucas along with some rebellious Conservatives.
The former parties may not have anything in common with Anna Soubry, Ken Clarke or Nicky Morgan, but their willingness to cooperate on Brexit is to be applauded as a practical necessity – Brexit is not party politics as normal, it’s bigger than that. However Labour MPs don’t seem to see it that way.
When this whole sorry mess is written about in future, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the Libs Dems and Greens will, I have no doubt, be shown to have been in the right. All the signs are warnings are clearly on display. And the few Conservatives who have actually condemned and stood up to their own government and party and leader, notably Soubry it must be said, will also be remembered as having been on the right side of the debate whilst swimming against their own party’s tide.
Who among Labour’s MPs have actively stood up to Jeremy Corbyn’s facilitation of Brexit?
The answer, of course, is none. With less than 100 days until Brexit, things are looking bleak. Voting against May’s Brexit simply won’t cut it. It can be nothing less than a vote against Brexit and the revocation of Article 50.
The time to do that is fast disappearing. The only way to do it is for Labour MPs to unite with other pro-EU forces in parliament, and not just to oppose the Government’s hell-bent determination to secure an any-cost Brexit, but also their own leadership’s willingness for that to happen.