I know it doesn’t look that way at the moment, especially with the Tories tearing each other to pieces right now, but the Labour Party’s Brexit bunker is not nearly as impregnable as many inside it might like to imagine.
Brexit’s been a blast for Labour so far. For them it’s been the gift that keeps on giving. How they must be laughing themselves silly as they deliberately face every which way on the issue, carefully constructing a trail of quotes to ensure that everyone in Britain hears exactly what they want to hear from Her Majesty’s Opposition. It gets better though, because Labour knows perfectly well that no Brexit deal of any kind can pass their impossibly ambiguous six tests. A cynic might say that hurdle was deliberately set so high that nobody could ever find it, let alone clear it. Ironically, those tests may come back to bite them if Jeremy Corbyn ends up in Downing Street.
For more than two years the Labour Party has sat back and enjoyed the show, safe in the knowledge that no matter how hard they try, the government can never capture the unicorn they’ve demanded of them. Such is the privilege of sitting on the opposition benches.
To the casual Labour voter it might seem like the Tories are currently destroying themselves over the vexed issue of Brexit, while the opposition reclines in the back seat and enjoys the ride. This is half right, but Theresa May’s shameful Brexit sell-out has created a constitutional vortex which will suck the Labour Party into it just as surely as it will crush the Conservatives.
There is no way that Theresa May’s disastrous stitch-up deal will be approved by Parliament unless Labour changes its mind on the issue, something they have absolutely no incentive to do. It’s also been made clear that, true to form, the EU will not consider any form of renegotiation, save for some vague, non-binding “assurances” which will only increase mistrust among Brexiteers.
Those increasingly immovable facts leave the government with only two options. The first is to go for broke and declare a no deal Brexit, the second is to extend the Article 50 process in the hope that some hitherto unimagined solution falls from the heavens before the next election (it won’t, by the way).
Although either course is deeply unpalatable for the Conservative Party, it’s also extremely dangerous for Labour too. Whether the government attempts to extend Article 50 or declares no deal, Labour will be forced to finally whip its MPs and take a single, unambiguous and coherent position on Brexit.
I’ve written at length about how the entire Brexit process has exposed the establishment’s true colours when it comes to their real interests, and the Parliamentary Labour Party will not escape the day of political judgement. Whatever course of action the government decides to follow, the Labour Party will have no choice but to either support or oppose it. Then, at last, Labour’s true position on Brexit will finally be revealed.
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