LABOUR’S decision to oppose the government’s European Union (Withdrawal) Bill encourages Tory claims that the opposition has reneged on Jeremy Corbyn’s insistence that the EU referendum must be honoured.
Whatever amendments Labour proposes, the Bill’s bottom line is repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act — an essential requirement to Britain leaving the EU.
Blocking a second reading of the Bill would not represent a victory for parliamentary scrutiny. It would create a chaotic situation beneficial only to die-hard opponents of the electorate’s referendum decision.
That pro-Brussels fanatic Kenneth Clarke pronounces himself minded to back Labour’s position, as do the Scottish nationalists, speaks volumes for the anti-Leave thinking behind it.
The voters’ decision in June last year was achieved despite an overwhelming parliamentary majority against leaving the EU, led by David Cameron’s proCity Tory government and supported by broadcast media, liberal capitalist papers, the Confederation of British Industry, most trade unions and key bastions of the Establishment.
Whatever weasel words are voiced about accepting or noting the people’s voice, the pro-EU Establishment has not altered its position.
It will champion a supposed “Brexit” position that involves Britain remaining subject to EU jurisdiction through the single market, a customs union, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) or any other EU-compliant mechanism.
City of London FTSE 100 companies’ chief executives’ refusal to sign up to Theresa May’s letter of support for her government’s approach, as revealed in yesterday’s Financial Times, the City Bible, indicate that they don’t believe the game is over yet.
They know that she was a strong supporter of Cameron’s Remain stance and believe that her position can yet be resuscitated, especially with support from pro-EU true believers in the opposition.
Labour’s “nuclear option” amendment risks portraying the party as the potential core of such a tendency.
Those wishing to frustrate the people’s voice on leaving the EU have been assisted by the May government’s foot-dragging that saw almost a year dissipated on unfocused chatter, indicating a dearth of political preparation and possible mandarin-level procrastination.
EU officials and politicians reacted far more quickly to the referendum result, pouring derision on it first as though expecting the traditional follow-up of a reballot until voters get it right.
When this didn’t materialise, they set ongoing financial contributions to the Brussels budget, postexit rights for EU citizens living in Britain and Irish border arrangements as issues on which major progress must be made before substantive trade terms are discussed.
There is no reason why David Davis and company should have swallowed these conditions, but they did.
After softening-up offensives based on extravagant and unsubstantiated financial claims and demands that the ECJ retain judicial superiority in an independent Britain, Ireland is the current focus.
Michel Barnier’s team insists that the onus is on the UK to find a way to avoid a hard border even though only Brussels threatens such an outcome.
Britain and Ireland have shared a common travel area for nearly a century and both Dublin and London want ongoing close relations and a frictionless intra-Irish border, but Barnier rejects a compromise to benefit all Irish people and is intent on imposing EU authority on Northern Ireland, effectively extending the bloc.
Labour’s legitimate opposition to Tory Party austerity policies must not translate into giving succour to EU power grabs or undermining the electorate’s clear choice to leave the tottering EU superstate.