The Labour seesaw perched on the edge of Brexit cliff
As far as I can tell, the much heralded Labour change of heart on Brexit, isn’t all that radical.
It seems to be a delaying tactic and you won’t be less informed as to the details of it if you skipped Keir Starmer’s Observer column and just glance at the following meme.
Essentially the Labour Brexit strategy has been given a temporary stay of execution but it is just as problematic as it was before.
The first major issue is that their end goal is fantastical. Labour want something that the EU won’t be prepared to give us. They want to curb immigration while having access to the good parts of the EU. As we explained in more detail previously.
The second and most glaring issue is that Labour is not the current government.
As things stand Labour doesn’t have an effective veto on Brexit. Sure, they will get a chance to vote on the final deal but if parliament rejects it, we will be left with no deal at all. So, they don’t currently have the power to even force through their underwhelming change of heart.
A few months ago we detailed how they can go about giving themselves the leverage to shape Brexit.
So, from the point of view of remain voters and soft Brexiteers, it is far from obvious what difference the latest Labour announcement will make in the whole scheme of things.
If they did work with the Lib Dems, Greens, SNP and rebel Tories to get a proper veto, then that would make things interesting. It would buy them the power to have real influence on the negotiations and it would also buy them the time to get their strategy in order.
The buying of time might also be good for independence supporters.
The main argument against having an early referendum is that things are too up in the air at the moment for anyone to make an informed choice.
That’s why you see influential folk like Tommy Sheppard MP making the case for holding indyref2 after the 2021 Holyrood elections.
The Labour plans would keep the UK in the Single Market until 2023. This gives independence supporters time to answer the key questions about what relationship we willhave with the EU and with what is left of the UK. It will also buy time to work on the issues we failed to convince people on in 2014. How will pensions be affected, what currency will we use, how will we manage our deficit, what will our Constitution look like and what type of economy will we have.
Of course, the counter argument is that we already have a mandate for indyref2, mandates are hard to come by and we might not win one in 2021.
Still, if we can’t elect a Holyrood pro-indy majority in 2021, then chances are we wouldn’t win a referendum anyway. So, I guess we have to play it by ear at the moment. In the unlikely event Labour gets their extended Single Market transition period then an indyref post-2021 might well make greater sense.
If they fail to, and we are pushed off the hard Brexit cliff on the Tory time frame, surely there will be enough impetus for a referendum this term?
Either way, independence supporters should treat the near future like a second plebiscite is imminent.