Category Archives: Brexit

FT: Corbyn’s ‘rapturous reception’ in Brussels


Today the FT reports that Jeremy Corbyn was given a ‘rapturous reception’ in Brussels on Thursday, as he warned that leaving the EU without a Brexit deal would be “catastrophic” for the UK economy. Mr Corbyn met Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator (above), the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the prime ministers of Portugal, Italy and Sweden on Thursday in Brussels.

Mr Corbyn received a standing ovation from Europe’s centre-left parties as he addressed delegates at the Europe Together conference, just hours before prime minister Theresa May was scheduled to meet her EU counterparts at a European leaders’ summit. He said:

“We’re here to make sure that negotiations get on track, that we defend jobs in Britain, and that we make sure there is trade access to Europe in the future . . . We cannot countenance the idea that we rush headlong into a no deal with Europe. No deal would be very dangerous for employment and jobs in Britain. We are clear in our priorities: a jobs-first Brexit which maintains free access to the single market.”

He advocated “radical alternatives” for Europeans after years of austerity, rising job insecurity and falling living standards.  “The neoliberal economic model is broken. It doesn’t work for most people,” he said, adding: “Our broken system has provided fertile ground for the growth of nationalist and xenophobic politics.”

The FT ends: “Mr Corbyn’s enthusiastic reception was in stark contrast to Mrs May’s arrival in Brussels on Thursday. The UK prime minister was rebuffed from attending a meeting of Britain’s traditional European allies — including the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic countries — on the sidelines of the summit, though Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, was invited to that meeting.”

 

 

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The Conservative Party is Just About Managing: Redbrick

Comment Writer Jamie Aspden, a third year political science student at the University of Birmingham, argues that that the Conservative Party Conference was the conclusive sign that the government needs to change. A ‘wake-up call’ – read the article here: http://www.redbrick.me/comment/brexit/conservative-party-just-managing/. Some extracts follow.

“For the first time in decades Britain faces the possibility of a truly socialist government, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn”.

After referring to the lost majority and questionable DUP deal, a Cabinet at war with themselves, little good news along the way and detailing the conference mishaps Aspden comments, “Theresa May has just about managed to get through it, whilst being tripped up by countless political debacles”. He ends:

“If the Conservative Party wishes to keep its reputation as one of the oldest, greatest and most successful political parties in the free world, it needs to get its act together and fast. The cost of indecision is too high.

“The United Kingdom can no longer afford this brand of governance. As at this time, when it faces some of the greatest challenges since the Second World War: an ageing population, a changing climate and the departure from the EU, we need a, dare I say it, ’strong and stable’ government. One with innovative and inspired ideas, and with the unity and discipline needed to enact them. ‘Just about managing’ will no longer cut it.

“For the first time in decades Britain faces the possibility of a truly socialist government, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. A party which is ‘just about managing’ to hold itself together is of little use in the fight against such an opposition. Instead the party must unite and move forward as one. If not, the electorate will never forgive it for falling apart right at the moment it needed to come together.

“The country deserves and needs a government that succeeds, and it needs it now”.

 

 

 

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The Labour Party conference: David Hencke

Extracts from David Hencke’s article which may be read in full here.

The Labour Party conference this year was like one huge political iceberg. The 10% that was visible was dominated by the passionate, support for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – as the architects of a Labour revival that had seen membership soar to 569,500.

  • It unveiled new and radical policies.
  • It suppressed a public row over Brexit which I notice Danny Finkelstein on The Times saw as shrewd politics, leaving divided Tories to take the flak.
  • It contained a dispute about whether there was anti-semitism among Left wingers despite the best efforts of Guido Fawkes, the Daily Mail and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to stir the pot.

But under the eyes of the media (who were given very restricted access to the conference hall) the hidden 90% of the Labour conference was carrying out another revolution which will ensure that the current revival of political activism among the young has a long-term future.

Contrary to what most Conservatives would like to think the 369,000 new party members who joined after Corbyn became leader are not all former card-carrying members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Communist Party and other Left wing groupings. And that even applies to those who joined Momentum

No the truth is they have ideals, strong views but little hard knowledge of how to participate in a political democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn has already transformed interest in politics by doubling the percentage of people involved in party membership in Britain. Now it looks as though Labour is going to get the new membership to engage in democracy to help them win the next election. Even if only 10% of the membership become fervent activists – that is still some 57,000 people – more than half the total Tory membership, I am told.

The transcript of Jeremy Corbyn’s conference address may be seen here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/jeremy-corbyns-2017-conference-address/

 

 

 

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Wolmar: wait for government to crumble . . .

Like many others, I have read and appreciated Christian Wolmar’s input on transport issues over the years – HS2 of late. I know nothing of his political views though, and so was intrigued to come across this article a couple of days ago. The last four paragraphs of  Wolmar’s thoughtful but pugnacious argument follow:

Labour’s strategy of equivocation on Brexit actually worked on polling day. Far from alienating both sides in the debate, as I had predicted, the party managed, to some extent, to attract both Leavers and Remainers. Suggesting that the benefits of the single market and customs union should be retained while leaving the EU was, however, a conjuring trick that cannot be repeated. At some stage, when Theresa May discovers that she cannot have her cake and eat it, Labour is going to have to decide whether the deal she has negotiated is acceptable or not.

But not now. At the moment, the best strategy is simply to watch the Tories tear themselves apart. This is not Labour’s problem, but theirs. They got us into this mess and therefore they must be held accountable. There is no doubt that once the eight, highly complex Brexit bills start to reach the Commons, then there will be a battle royale between the pro-European and Europhobe wings of the Tory party. It will be a great spectacle but such fights, like boxing matches, are better watched than entered into. 

Ultimately, we do not know which way Labour will go. There is no doubt that Corbyn and John McDonnell are sceptical of the present structure and policies of the European Union but that does not necessarily mean they feel Britain’s future is better out of it.

Rather like Corbyn’s brilliant decision to enter the TV leadership debate at the last moment, Labour should wait to pounce until the chaos within government is so apparent that it is about to crumble. My hope is that Labour would then announce it will hold a second referendum because the implications of leaving prove to be so dire, and the advantages so nebulous. But then I have always been an optimist.

 

Christian Wolmar is a British journalist, author, railway historian and Labour Party politician He is known for his commentary on transport, named as Journalist of the Year in the National Transport Awards in 2007. He is also an advocate for cycling. Wolmar’s books and columns mainly analyse the current state of the British railway industry. He is a critic of rail privatisation and opposes the construction of HS2, the planned high-speed railway between London and Birmingham and further points north.

 

(Just added to ‘favourites’: https://twitter.com/christianwolmar. No need to sign up- anyone can read this.)

 

 

 

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