Wednesday 17 October 2018

At All

There is no difference between Keir Starmer's "No one is ruling out Remain as an option" and Theresa May's insistence that the alternative to her Chequers-based deal would be "no Brexit at all".

Except that he was slapped down and his view is not his party's policy, whereas she is the Prime Minister, thanks to a party so viscerally pro-Remain that it made her its Leader without an election.

By contrast, Labour has had a Leadership Election since the referendum, and it has explicitly re-elected Jeremy Corbyn, by an increased margin, against a more pro-EU alternative who was in favour of a second referendum.

Corbyn has never threatened, nor would he ever threaten, "no Brexit at all". For that, you need the undisputed Leader of the Conservative Party.

Face it, while the entire Opposition is going to vote against whatever May brings back, the number of Conservatives doing so will be lucky to reach two dozen, and will consist mostly of people best known for their fancy dress. The rest will be utterly obscure.

This is Maastricht all over again, pretty much. I remember when John Redwood was standing for Leader against John Major, and an interviewer, I have a feeling that it was Jeremy Paxman, asked him which of his supporters was going to be in his Cabinet. Teresa Gorman in the Cabinet? Tony Marlow in the Cabinet? The very question was a joke. And here we are again.

Having the same heartlands as the Remain vote, the Conservative Party lives in open dread of losing 10 or 20 seats, if not more, to the Liberal Democrats in the South. Had the last Parliament run its full course, then that would have happened in 2020.

By contrast, in 2017, the Leave heartlands not only remained loyal to Labour, but they greatly increased the majorities of scores of its MPs. And the Labour Leadership remains loyal to them, while the Conservative Leadership talks of "no Brexit at all".

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and our people need to hold the balance of power in it. Otherwise, that balance would be held by 10 or 20 Southern Lib Dems, if not more, to whom the economic changes since 1973, accelerating since 1977, had been just fine and dandy.

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