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Public losing patience with Brexit delaying tactics

JUST days after Chuka Umunna and his oddly matched groupuscule defected to form the Independent Group, Labour’s massed ranks of MPs have followed them into the division lobbies to vote to favour a policy which supposedly is why the cowardly clique left the party to join with Tories in the first place.

The motion’s sponsors also included a prime selection of the most disloyal and irremediably Blairite hold-outs to still retain a perch in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

So now Parliament “declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.”

As these lines are written it looks like Labour will abstain on Sarah Wollaston’s bid for a second referendum but back Hilary Benn’s bid for Parliament to take control of the Brexit process.

It is hard to imagine a figure less likely to inspire confidence that the people’s mandate is in secure hands than this unprincipled warmonger who was no more loyal to Ed Miliband than he is to Jeremy Corbyn.

These people are playing a long game, possibly in its origins not of their devising, but playing it with some success.

The objective is not limited to subverting the people’s vote to leave the European Union, important though that is for the credibility and continuity of the cross-party consensus.

The bigger game is to prevent the election of a left-led Labour government or, failing that, to devise a straitjacket which makes the implementation of a people’s manifesto difficult, no matter how strongly expressed is the electoral support for such a programme.

Delaying Brexit is the essential first step in this process but the emphasis which some people put on subjecting Brexit to a decisive degree of control to a Parliament as presently composed owes something to the fear that if the people were indeed to given a second vote they might well deliver a second blow to Britain’s membership of the EU.

That is a prospect feared as much in the EU Commission as it is in Westminster because it is not only the Brits who see membership of the EU as the symbol of the burdens imposed on them.

A ComRes survey earlier this month, before the latest series of Commons votes, found that 44 per cent of the public now believe the UK should leave without a deal if Brussels refuses to make any further concessions. This is a six-point rise from January.

Significantly, when asked this bald question less than a third — 30 per cent — disagreed, which suggests that support for any variation on Theresa May’s package has quite limited support outside of Parliament.

Michel Barnier has already made it clear to Theresa May that no further tweaks to the deal they devised together are possible in the current timeframe.

This represents less a commitment to a Rees-Mogg regime — although we should be aware that yearnings for a deregulated hyper-capitalist policy finds a measure of cross-party support in unexpected places — but more to a widely felt frustration with the political class.
 
We may find that a left-led Labour government has to implement its programme in conflict with the EU treaty commitments that remain in force. Even if this is not the case we can expect a full range of measures to make its life difficult.

Disentangling our country from the EU is but the first step in bending capital to the will of working people. Easy it is not.

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