Brake: Labour Brexit Bill intervention “Too little, too late”

Today’s pronouncements by Keir Starmer that Labour might, if it feels like it, work with Tories to secure some moderate changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill are hardly earth-shattering.

I can’t find the words “single market” anywhere in his red lines. Perhaps the people’s red lines are, like the Glee Club song, slightly pink. I certainly don’t think that Labour should be expecting gratitude any time soon. They are barely managing the minimum you would expect from an opposition.

Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake is similarly unimpressed:

It’s entertaining to see the  Labour front bench attempting to have a backbone, but it’s too little too late.

Despite similar posturing back in March, Corbyn and Starmer backed the Tories to trigger Article 50, and they are still denying the British people a say on the final deal.

Only the Lib Dems are offering an exit from Brexit, and an opportunity for the UK to remain a member of the EU.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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19 Comments

  • …………………Despite similar posturing back in March, Corbyn and Starmer backed the Tories to trigger Article 50, and they are still denying the British people a say on the final deal…………..

    Perhaps because the people (in whom you place so much faith) voted to ‘Leave’; it’s called democracy….Labour demand that MPs have a binding vote on final deal; that is most likely to get a sensible outcome…

    BTW..If your ‘second referendum’ still says ‘Out’ what will you do; demand a third vote?

  • paul barker 22nd Oct '17 - 6:56pm

    We have a perfect Right to make fun of Labours timidity on Brexit but I am not sure if its the best approach. It might be better to encourage their faltering steps in the right direction.

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Oct '17 - 9:05pm

    expats: “democracy” is that you can dissent from the “will of the people”.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Oct '17 - 9:09pm

    If the referendum on the deal produces an accept the deal vote, that’s how it will have to be. But we should give the people the choice. Why anyone has a problem with that is beyond me.

  • “If the referendum on the deal produces an accept the deal vote, that’s how it will have to be. But we should give the people the choice. Why anyone has a problem with that is beyond me.” – because the leave voters who voted leave expected the result to be directly implemented? 🙂

  • Caron,
    But what if the result of #referendum 2 is only very slightly remain? Say 1%?

  • It all depends on the wording of the referendum. It could say accept the deal on offer or default to WTO rules, in which case we leave the EU either way, it could say accept the deal or stay; without seeing the wording it’s buying a pig in a poke.

  • Caron Lindsay 22nd Oct ’17 – 9:09pm……….If the referendum on the deal produces an accept the deal vote, that’s how it will have to be. But we should give the people the choice. Why anyone has a problem with that is beyond me……

    Caron, the Observer (one of the less ‘hysterical’ papers) reported, “So despite feeling that the process is difficult and being handled badly, few appear to be changing their underlying views. ……. The country is still split down the middle on the matter, with little sign of a decisive shift one way or another.”…

    From talking to friends who are ‘Leavers’ that is my experience….On ‘Question Time’, rational arguments from Sal Brinton, Lisa Nandy and Richard Coles seemed to fall on deaf ears and the loudest applause of the night was for an audience member who called for the UK to just walk away….I’m not pretending that he, and his supporters, are representative of the UK but they are still the most vociferous and have the support of the tabloid press…

    You may feel that ‘appealing’ to an ill informed electorate is the best way; I don’t..Instead of trying to score silly political points off Labour we should be working with them to ensure parliament scrutinises every aspect of the deal and, accept Sir Keir Starmer’s contention that such a tactic could mean that MPs would be allowed to REJECT a Brexit deal at the end of the negotiation process and could keep us in the EU….

    When even paul barker (Hi, Paul ) accepts that cooperation is the best way forward, to coin a phrase, “You know it makes sense” …..

  • It can be called the Noel Edmonds referendum: Deal, or No Deal?

  • David Franks 23rd Oct '17 - 10:18am

    Labour’s position on Brexit is what Labour’s position so often is on contentious issues: do not take a firm position in case it upsets someone. Corbyn, of course, has never been happy with Britain’s EU membership. We should be encouraging Labour MPs who agree with us to take courage, speak out and vote accordingly.

  • I will say the same thing I said once before when this subject was discussed:-
    If someone offered me a Mediterranean holiday and I said yes I would like to have the chance to refuse when the ticket to Syria arrived. Similarly, the people voted to leave but they should at least get a say on the destination, particularly if the deal is bad or non-existent.

  • Michael Cole 23rd Oct '17 - 10:53am

    All this goes to show that a simplistic referendum question was a totally misguided mechanism for deciding this complex and hugely important issue.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Oct '17 - 12:08pm

    @Michael Cole “All this goes to show that a simplistic referendum question was a totally misguided mechanism for deciding this complex and hugely important issue.”
    Lib Dems used to (even up to the 2015 manifesto) talk about ensuring a referendum “is on the big question: In or Out”. When did the party stop being “totally misguided”?

  • Michael Cole 23rd Oct '17 - 3:30pm

    @Peter Watson 23rd Oct ’17 – 12:08pm, The LD support for a referendum related specifically to the Lisbon Treaty.

  • No, the Lib Dem support for a referendum was defined in opposition to those who wanted a referendum specifically on the Lisbon Treaty. As Nick Clegg put it:

    ‘The Conservatives only support a limited referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Why won’t they give the people a say in a real referendum?’

    See: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/01/eu-referendum-leaflet-embarrassed-clegg

  • Or from this very web-site, see:

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/ming-speaks-out-on-euro-referendum-%e2%80%9cwe-must-have-a-vote%e2%80%9d-1323.html

    In which then-leader Campbell first says:

    ‘My own view is that in its present form the substantial differences between the draft [Lisbon] Treaty and the old constitution mean that a referendum is not required’

    but then:

    ‘Let’s have an honest debate on the European Union followed by a real choice for the British people. That means a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. We would ask the British people the big question – whether to remain in the European Union or not’

    that is, the policy was quite specifically that there was no need for a referendum on the specific issue of the Lisbon Treaty; but the Lib Dems did want a wider referendum on the whole question of the UK’s continued membership of the EU.

    Which is what they got, in 2016.

    Lib Dems are usually quick to point out when the major parties steal their policies; strangely not in this case.

  • Or not-then-leader-but-now-leader Cable:

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/vince-cable-on-european-referendum-1609.html

    ‘No-one under the age of fifty – including the current Foreign Secretary – has had a say on Britain’s membership of the EU. An in-out referendum would give people a vote on the broad issue rather than a narrower referendum on the Reform Treaty and allow us to promote the positive benefits of membership.’

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Oct '17 - 5:25pm

    Whether it is expected in the staunch pro EU minds of many in the party, the public are not moving to it in great numbers with this attitude.

    Labour have played it electorally very well. Starmer is measured and cautious. The Tory uselessness on this is benefiting the Labour party because they are not obsessed with it but are criticising the government.

    The sort of protections for people in work , and such as this, which Corbyn and his colleagues emphasise , are good notions of a good , outcome. We prefer to see this whole thing cancelled as a bad cheque , but if the money is in the bank of interest of the public, or , at least parliament, it is going to be Brexit lousy or not.

    The EU refused to discuss the thing this letter correctly sees as a priority. They prefer to have their money first. Sorry, but to not really mention it is wrong. They are not playing any fairer on that than this crummy government.

    Labour are not on the sort of form they are with no reason at all, but because pragmatism is possible, when you have been director of public prosecutions, and knighted for that, it must come naturally.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Oct '17 - 5:26pm

    @Michael Cole “”The LD support for a referendum related specifically to the Lisbon Treaty.”
    Really?
    In 2010 I voted for a Lib Dem manifesto which stated, “The European Union has evolved significantly since the last public vote on membership over thirty years ago. Liberal Democrats therefore remain committed to an in/out referendum the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU.” Even in 2015 the Lib Dem manifesto stated that the party would “Hold an In/Out referendum when there is next any Treaty change involving a material transfer of sovereignty from the UK to the EU.”
    Whilst the conditions for triggering it might have changed over the years, the party still appeared wedded to the principle of a “totally misguided mechanism” long after the Lisbon Treaty.

    With regards to the Lisbon Treaty, then one could consider the 2016 Referendum as the belated delivery of exactly what Lib Dems were campaigning for in 2008/9 when they organised a petition that “the Government should give the British people a real choice on Europe by holding a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union” https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-surprising-truth-about-that-lib-dem-inout-eu-referendum-leaflet-32686.html/clegg-referendum-leaflet-lisbon-2008).

    Lib Dems may hate the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum but the expression “Be careful what you wish for” springs to mind. Challenges to the outcome of that referendum need to bear in mind previous party positions or the arguments risk being weakened by an apparent lack of consistency and principle.

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