Monday, 9 November 2020
On The Level
If there had to be a "level playing field", with the United Kingdom bound by EU law over which it had no say, then there would no point in leaving the EU. Indeed, re-joining it would be preferable to such vassal statehood, and that is no doubt the intention. Reaccession would of course be on whatever terms that the EU cared to set. Schengen, the euro, the lot. And dream on about another referendum.
The areas that swung the 2016 referendum did so precisely in order to be free of things like the State Aid rules, which had wrought devastation here. These areas delivered the hung Parliament of 2017 when Jeremy Corbyn was still both anti-austerity and pro-Brexit, and they delivered the Conservative overall majority of 2019 because Corbyn had surrendered to Keir Starmer over Brexit, making him at least implicitly pro-austerity as well.
Boris Johnson's and Rishi Sunak's programme of reinvestment in the Red Wall began before Covid-19, and it would be incompatible at numerous points with continued membership of the EU, or of the Single Market, or of the Customs Union, or of anything remotely like that, including continued adherence to the State Aid rules. The same was of course true of the Labour manifestos of 2017 and 2019. The fishing interest is strong in four of the six Conservative seats in Scotland, all six of which are marginal with the SNP.
The tier system has brought home, the overly late second lockdown is bringing home, and the return to tiers will bring home, the fact that no political party has begun to grasp where and by whom the decisive votes were now cast. On Brexit, most Conservative MPs will vote for whatever Johnson put in front of them, while the Liberal Democrats and most Labour MPs would vote for anything to which reaccession would be preferable, or at least they would not vote against it. But I am a declared and active candidate for the parliamentary seat of North West Durham at the next General Election. Please give generously.
By the way, four of the nine Labour abstentions on the lockdown had also been among the 23 Labour votes against the 10pm curfew. At least three of those four are from the traditional Right, with the fourth at least more allied to that than to anything else; mind-blowingly to some of us, they include the last right-wing Labour MP for County Durham. Graham Stringer is a maverick, if you like. But Kevan Jones, John Spellar and Derek Twigg will have done this only on behalf of a body, substantial in more than one sense, of good company men and women. Something is afoot here. Keep an eye on it.