Ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum, where the UK voted to leave the European Union, Labour’s position on Brexit has rarely been less clear. They have consistently stated that they respect the outcome of the referendum. However, in my view, their leader Jeremy Corbyn is trying to frustrate Brexit.
As the leader of the opposition, he rallied around the other parties in the Commons to mock the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, with a view to running the negotiations himself instead. This would have happened if the government had lost Labour’s motion of no-confidence in the government.
Just last week, a video surfaced of Jeremy Corbyn mocking the European Union back in 2009. He openly described the EU as an ‘empire’, with ‘militarisation’ growing. He also exclaimed the new EU treaty ‘would create a military Frankenstein’. This condemnation just shows how Labour’s (and Corbyn’s) views have changed in relation to the EU. But, ten years on, he supports them more to an extent – arguing for a close relationship and retaining benefits, despite saying he respects the referendum result.
He also called for Ireland to vote against further involvement in the EU – a point perhaps if he wanted the UK to be less involved in the bloc. I still cannot try and work out Labour’s position on not just Brexit, but European Union membership as a whole. Labour wants to enshrine an EU Rights & Protection Bill in British law; this is still not Brexit – EU is still in the name.
One can only imagine what different ways Labour would use to go to the EU’s negotiating table. Labour’s history is a complicated one; prioritising spending and securing free trade agreements. However, in addition to this, Labour’s manifesto states that they want a single market relationship with the EU and a secured customs union.
These propositions mean that trade can flow freely between the UK and the EU. The EU have said this is possible, but the UK would have to keep freedom of movement. This is a red-line for Theresa May’s Conservative government, who want to pull the UK out of all the EU’s benefits.
But still, with Labour’s plans, the UK would have to contribute to the EU’s budget and not having a say in our own laws in the Parliament and Commission. This is why Labour’s position is confusing – they clearly want to make concessions. They must understand that the single market and customs union access is not negotiable with keeping freedom of movement. The former Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, said in 2016 before the referendum that if the UK voted to leave, we would end single market, customs union and freedom of movement membership – but few knew explicitly what these meant.
Some parties did cover-up potential consequences for leaving the EU; instead offering somewhat hopeful positives to leaving, rather than giving away some of the current advantages we have. It is a shame that where we are now, if we did keep these advantages, we would be frustrating British democracy which is so precious to our country.
There are so many positives with leaving the European Union – okay, we may not have the frictionless trade between us and the continent – but we could strike bilateral trade deals with up-and-coming economies and countries that vie for us to have these new plans. I hope that there is a trade deal between the UK and the EU by the end of 2020, which would mean trading with each other in a mostly strong and fair way to both sides. We do rely on the EU a lot at the moment for trade and growth, so I hope that something is sorted.
Much of the opposition is fighting for a second referendum on the terms of a final Brexit deal. However, we must act on the referendum result. Despite thinking that, even as a potential Conservative voter, the government has handled parts of the negotiations shambolically, I am certain a second referendum would be a democratic disaster. Views may have changed, but you cannot please everyone. Both main parties oppose each other’s policies constantly, but the choice was there, and the mandate was clear – the UK wanted to leave the EU. But, in Parliament, it is clear that there is little support and a mandate for such a move.