Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Concession Stand

People voted with the Government last night who would go to the stake rather than accept withdrawal from the Single Market or the Customs Union, and who would die in the last ditch for a referendum on the final deal with Remain as the only other option on the ballot paper. So ignore what they have been taking to the airwaves to tell you. Theresa May has promised them a second referendum with two options: remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union, and remaining in the EU. There will be no Third Way.

John Major made absolutely no concession whatever to the twice as numerous Maastricht Rebels. But then, Major believed in Maastricht. May does not believe in Brexit. True believing supporters of Brexit on the Conservative benches are probably even less numerous than they are on the Labour benches, the difference being that the Labour ones are in several cases closes to their own Leader, who chooses to be surrounded by implacable opponents of the EU from outside Parliament.

Well, of course. From the initially pro-Market Enoch Powell onwards, the anti-EU Right has only ever wanted a renegotiation of the terms. And unlike Powell, the whole of the supposedly pro-Brexit Right today thinks that the EU only went to the bad sometime in the very late 1980s, around the time of a speech in the dotage of Margaret Thatcher's Premiership, which we now know to have been the beginning of her own dotage. She never opposed the EU while she was in full possession of her faculties. Until she began to lose those, then what is now called "Hard Brexit" was called "Loony Left".

So much for the supposedly Hard Leave-supporting membership of the Conservative Party. Those members have selected and reselected every one of these MPs, even after they had installed May as Leader without so much as a contest. By contrast, while it is reasonable to assume that most members of the Labour Party who were old enough to vote voted Remain, they still re-elected Jeremy Corbyn with even more votes in 2016, after the referendum, than they had given him the year before.

Owen Smith had promised a second referendum and had whined on endlessly, as he and others still do, about Corbyn's lack of enthusiasm for the Remain campaign. But it was May who was made Leader after having campaigned vigorously for Remain. And it is May who is going to deliver a second referendum with two options: remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union, and remaining in the EU. Last night, if she had not promised that, then she would have lost. Last night, she won.

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