On Monday, Jeremy Corbyn delivered a speech at the National Transport Design Centre in Coventry where he outlined his party’s new Brexit position. Labour will back a customs union to ‘ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe and to help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland’, but will not support Britain remaining in the single market. The speech marked the end of a period of relative silence from Labour on the party’s Brexit position. With Theresa May set to make an intervention of her in the coming days, our general secretary Andrew Harrop assessed the two parties’ Brexit strategies for LabourList.
On the Conservative position, Harrop writes: “In principle May’s ‘goldilocks’ Brexit – neither too distant nor too close – could attract broad public and business support. The problem is that it is not remotely possible, as wiser Tories know. By presenting it as the UK’s considered opening bid for the Brexit end-game, the Conservatives are burning credibility and wasting time.”
In contrast, Harrop explains that Labour’s new position ‘is good economics and good politics, giving the party the upper hand’. He explains that: “The position works within the Labour family because the question of a customs union does not divide Labour’s own electoral tribes – which means that only a tiny hard-core of Labour Leave campaigners will defy the party whip.”
Harrop hints that Labour’s current position on Brexit ‘may not be Labour’s final line on Brexit.’ But it is, he maintains, ‘a good one for now’.