Corbyn’s Engagement

First, it is worth noting that the government is so divided that, at the eleventh hour, it has been forced to call upon the opposition for help.

I suggest that indicates that the government and the Conservative Party have collapsed.

The UK Prime Minister, who has been so intent on putting party before country, has at last herself decided that it hasn’t worked. She has had to plead for help,not from her own party, but the opposition. This in itself is remarkable.

She seems to have endeavoured to put the ball in Corbyn’s court – but it is probably a trap.

When Corbyn accepts the Prime Minister’s invitation to help in a Brexit agreement he should decline contributing anything to Theresa May’s disastrous Withdrawal Agreement (WA) as he would risk joint ownership. I think that she is really offering only input to the political declaration, which has no legal force so in effect his only possibility is to say that he will support a referendum on her agreement if the other option is to remain. This seems unlikely to be agreed as May says she wants the WA to be concluded by May 22nd, so it is cry for help – but far from unconditional. In any case as she says she is going, a referendum holds her agreement to proper approval. Otherwise the Tory leader could change and simply decide on something else.

If it were me the other referendum option would actually be to revoke Article 50 but that may be a step too far for some in Labour. I consider that revoking article 50 gets you to the status quo ante and then if Brexiters want to leave they have ample and prolonged time to inform us of their plans.

Effictively, Ireland is the major stumbling block and revoking Article 50 would,I think, force the Brexiters to give their attention to reuniting Ireland – which is the only legitimate way that Britain could legally, deal or no deal, exit the EU.

Legal is important because if you want to negotiate, as we are always told, trade deals around the world, then people have to realise that Britain will keep to its word. Tearing up the internationally registered Good Friday Agreement will not endear negotiators on the other side of the table.

All of this is basic stuff and it is frightening that we have a government that seems impervious to the understanding of these simple rule of law principles – for which Britain used to be renowned.

Indeed the rule of law is essential for the upkeep of any state.

We seem to be approaching a state failure organised by our very own Prime Minister.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    In a very fluid and unpredictable environment the WA is one of the few certainties. The only way of avoiding it is to revoke A50 either directly or via a referendum.

    Even in a no-deal situation the EU will not reopen talks unless the WA is agreed.

    The good news is that May has blinked. I had feared that she would choose no-deal over compromise.

    Both the demographics and economics indicate that a United Ireland is well nigh inevitable over the next 20 years, but if rushed there could well be instability. NI still needs time to heal.

    1. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

      “NI still needs time to heal.”

      …but English Tories (and indeed probably much of the English population, come to that) don’t give a toss about NI.

      In fact , post Thatcher, English people don’t seem to give a toss about ANYbody but themselves.

      I don’t know how such people are to be dealt with civilly.

  2. Ivan Horrocks -

    If there was any indication that the act of reaching out to Corbyn will result in anything positive (e.g. a way out of the current impasse) there would have been mass resignations of the Brexiteers in the Cabinet. Instead there’s been hardly a squeak. That’s because they know (and are almost certainly party to the discussion and decision that resulted in this given they all sat through a seven hour Cabinet meeting) this is a ploy to rope Corbyn and Labour into taking blame for the failure of May’s deal, and thus, I’m sure, us exiting the EU without a deal.

    Spreading the blame is strategically crucial to the Tory party at the next election – whenever that may be (probably soon after the arrival of their new leader/PM). And sadly now the offer has been made to Corbyn there’s no way he can escape being tarred with some of the blame for failure even though the Tory position and Labour’s are so far apart it’s obvious from the outset that no compromise can be reached.

    In short, this could well be a masterly strategic move from May, her advisers (all arch Brexiteers) and the Cabinet. But it has very little to do with solving the current impasse and everything to do with the standing of the Tories (both remain and leave) and their future electoral fortunes.

    1. Charles Adams -

      If Labour support people’s vote it is hard to see how they can lose. If May does not agree Tories have to take the blame for what follows. If May agrees, it is back with the people to decide.

  3. Bill Hughes -

    It does seem that that Britain’s democracy, economy and future civilised society hangs by a thread (one vote to prevent a no deal brexit and chaos) in the Commons last night just before midnight. The baying wolves of extreme right-wing/neofascism are held at bay by our very fragile parliamentary democracy, but only just. These certainly are frightening times and needs vigilance by all to prevent disaster.

  4. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

    I don’t always agree with you so completely, Peter, but on this I think I can see no divergence of any consequence with my own opinion.

    Article 50 has to be revoked. Brexit is undeliverable. Any other option is an act of collective self harm which will scar the nation for two generations.

    The proviso in revoking A50, and it has to be made explicit, is that the UK is not happy with the status quo ante position and we will seek to change the relationship with the EU. But first we must make our own political system more robust and accountable.

    For leavers to pretend that EU membership is a binary choice; in or out, is risible. We already have a bespoke membership.

    Currently we have no competence in government and precious little in opposition either. The problem is in Westminster and in the UK not in the EU (although the EU is not without its issues).

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