Over the last 24 hours, possibly longer after I actually publish this piece, Sean Jones QC, has published two longish twitter threads on Labour and Brexit. He was inspired or provoked by an interview on Cambell & Stewart’s “The Rest is Politics” of Kier Starmer.

Jones’s 1st thread asks how ‘leaning into’ the Tories Hard Brexit can possibly be a policy success when it’s clear that it’s failed and asks how it can be an electoral success given that so many Remainers have not changed their mind. There are few, if any words wasted in the thread, so have a look yourself, but I am particularly taken with this tweet,

How does backing a hard Brexit heal the division? There is literally nothing on offer to those who backed Remain. This is just as doomed a strategy for him as it has been Johnson because it is not materially different.

Sean Jones QC – Twitter

And this, in a reply to a comment on the thread,

There are compromise options that fall short of rejoining. He has ruled those out too. The problem is it [not] that he’s failing to commit to rejoining, the problem is that he is committing to a Hard Brexit with some tinkering.

Sean Jones QC

I retweeted it, saying,

This is possibly the crux of the problem with Starmer’s speech on #failedbrexit. It is part of a tremendous thread examining the politics and traps of agreeing to the #ToryHardBrexit at the very time the country is beginning to reject it.

Dave Levy – Twitter

The 2nd thread, addresses the pro-Starmer argument that this is a long game. Jones argues that Starmer’s Brexit line is a foolish thing to say because it fails to differentiate him and Labour from the Tories, Starmer’s assuming that remainers/rejoiners who seem to be growing in number will put up with it. Starmer’s policy needs to be effective politically before the election and the basis for effective policy after. The first proposition is questionable, and the second wrong.

On the electoral dimension,

First, the policy is disappointing a very large proportion of his party membership and base. Telling them, in effect, to suck it up is dangerous particularly given the rationale of the plan.

The rationale is, “I need the Red Wall votes, so I have to give them what I think they want”. So the pellucidly clear message is, if you want a different Brexit policy you will have to show him that he will lose your votes. He is literally telling you how to change his mind.

Sean JOnes QC

Starmer should note that the Greens, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the SNP are all going to have, in my eyes, better positions on relationships with the EU and the means of achieving it. On Starmer’s proposition’s utility as a policy guideline, Sean writes on this, but I think this is the best quote,

So if you believe that he is sucking up Hard Brexit in order to get a chance to do the things he really wants to, the bad news is that Hard Brexit makes doing those things much more difficult.

Sean Jones QC

Much of the rest of what Jones says is that Brexit cannot be made to work, saying it can means that all its failures will be down to Starmer, and it is an obstacle to what he really says he wants to do. In the podcast, Starmer talks about his talks with Oscar Scholtz, the German premier, talks about improving trade when that trade failure, the decline in exports and imports are exclusively down to Brexit trade barriers and we haven’t even introduced the customs checks we require y the treaties, yet Starmer claims he can have conversations about trade without talking about the EU.

The problem for the ‘long gamers’ when talking to Labour’s remainers/rejoiners, is that the electoral offer is based on another lie, which together with Starmer’s 10 pledges, and his promise to ‘end factionalism’ are an unfortunate conjunction. The charge that he lies, although not as much as Johnson, has significant evidence.

I’ll finish with a quote from Rory Stewart from the podcast, they were talking about the loss of trust that people have with politicians, and Stewart argues, that it’s not about virtue.

“…  [parliament is full of people who are] most of the time more interested in campaigning and sticking it to the opposition then they are in thinking critically and governing well and we can’t change that by hoping we are going to have noble individuals.”

Rory Stewart – The Rest is Politics

This off course, together with Starmer’s record as a politician, raises the question as to whether Starmer really is a ‘noble individual’.

A noble individual
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