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Brexit: Who will speak for us?

David Lindsay

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but it is clearly the case. No Deal is already off the table. That assurance has been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the financial backers of the Conservative Party. Those people, unlike the trade unions, have no sentimental attachment to any political party. Routinely, they work in and with countries where much of what Jeremy Corbyn proposes is already in place. They have more than survived British Governments that were well to the left of his present position, Governments that in any case have to hold General Elections within five years. They would be at the front of the queue for State Aid. He holds no terrors for them.

And the Liberal Democrats have undertaken not to support any future Motion of No Confidence in the present Government. Officially, that is unless Corbyn came out in favour of a second referendum. But that is like saying, “unless the Moon turned into green cheese.” The only real reason can be that Theresa May has given Vince Cable, who is her former Cabinet colleague, the same assurance that Philip Hammond has given to her party’s paymasters. After all, she is still emphatically ruling out a second referendum, too. So why, if that were the real reason, would the Lib Dems not vote to bring her down? If “No Deal is the legal default position,” then which body do you expect to uphold it as such? The Supreme Court? Its record is such that its likelihood of ruling that the United Kingdom automatically left the European Union on 29th March is simply nil.

Corbyn is right that the job of the Opposition is to oppose. We are not governed by Grand Coalitions in this country, and we never should be. Even during the War, the Independent Labour Party held to that principle. But this is a different situation, and if you are not at the table, then you are on the menu. Corbyn, far more than any Labour MP who might be co-opted into this admittedly sorry process, is the voice of the people whose votes determined the outcome of the EU referendum. Had we voted the other way, then Remain would have won, as the entire British Establishment, including the tactical pretend Leavers, had expected. We revolted against 39 years of economic dispossession and political oppression, under all three parties and beginning with the Callaghan Government’s turn to monetarism in 1977. The result from Sunderland stunned Boris Johnson and shook the international money markets. Dozens more such results followed through the night, and decided the overall outcome. Most of those areas then elected Corbyn’s Labour Party a year later. But who will speak for us now?

For that matter, who will speak for the equally dispossessed and oppressed areas of London that voted Remain as a revolt against the British Establishment in general and Johnson in particular? Living cheek by jowl with it had subjected them to ludicrously inflated prices and to endless petty “security” measures. Eight years of rule by him had made them sure that they were never going to give him any other kind of victory. Nor were they ever going to give the Establishment any more power, even power that was currently exercised by the EU.

Within and beyond the Labour whip, there are members of both House of Parliament who could indeed give voice to these positions. They need to organise in order to do so. Beyond that, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.