Staff writer Scarlett Neill on Labour’s ever-changing stance on Brexit, and the political turmoil the UK currently finds itself in
Brexit. It’s coming and it is coming fast. Or so we thought. Labour have finally piped up on the topic, yet it is in a way that few expected. The Party is now backing a second referendum after spending the better part of the last year backing the result of the last referendum. Although even then, none of us really knew where they stood. At this point Labour could voice any opinion on Brexit and we will have doubts on its validity. Seven members of the party, along with a couple Tory’s, split to form the new Independent Group. This is important to note as the Labours U-turn could be the result of pressure from the recent split in the party.
Is Jeremy Corbyn finally caving to pressure from within the party? Is Labour going to try to reclaim the swing voters with a tantalising centrist policy? Attract new voters? A pressure tactic to get a softer Brexit? Or is it just another attempt to usurp the current Conservative government? These are all significant questions because all of them point to one thing; a Labour party that is unsure of its direction with significant internal division. It is nice to hope that any party is beginning to become at least slightly cohesive on one of the most significant political upheavals since the Second World War. However, that’s a far to idealistic assumption to make. This seems to me like another misguided attempt to gain political favour but without any risk due to the lack of ability to call for a vote of no confidence.
In addition, this just highlights the shear downfall of the Lib Dems and their second referendum ambitions. They’ve done nothing but campaign for another referendum since the initial vote, yet once Labour changed their tunes the entire game may have changed. Would the Lib Dems have been better off focusing on restoring the trust they lost? Or should have focused on more domestic issues rather than fading into obscurity by campaigning for an issue they were never going to be able to influence as a small party? The Lib Dems need to focus on restoring their party to a credible position, not continuing to whine about a single issue. If not, they face becoming no more than a protest group in the face of the two main parties.
This is definitely a move that may appeal to a significant portion of Labours voter base, but it is also a move that has the potential for many ramifications. If Labour goes through with this plan they may be accused of undermining democracy. If another referendum were to go ahead then the legitimacy of the result will be weak due to the fact a second referendum is controversial in the first place. This would cause huge political controversy, possibly worse than we have already seen. In addition, if this is just a tactic being employed by Labour to pressure Theresa May into a more favourable outcome before backing out of this policy then the electorate may feel betrayed. Neither seem to be particularly ideal outcomes for Labour or our political situation.
So, we come to ask ourselves. Is this a smart political manoeuvre that will help us break the cycle of confusion and incompetency we have seen so far in the Brexit dealings? Or is it’s a silly move that’s going to do nothing but create further divides? We will have to wait and see and hope that Labour know what they’re doing.