Sunday, 12 June 2016

Labour and Leave

What would you prefer? Liberal gun control laws or liberal sexuality laws. I know exactly which way I would fall. Which is more than I know about the EU referendum. On that subject two things happened over the weekend. Premier Christian Radio's Ian Britton buttonholed me for an interview. And a firm Labour activist from Blyth (which town's ethnic composition is?) set out to me how he saw things which rather chimed with what I heard on R4 just now, although painted by the gentleman more starkly. His argument approximates to this: if Remain win then Cameron will have pulled off a trio of victories and there will be a Tory government for years to come.

Therefore Corbyn's only chance is to see Cameron unseated and a snap election called. So two strands come together to fill a flood of Labour leave voters, tactics and actual feelings that migration at a quarter a million a year net for the next twenty years is not in the interest of most Labour people. It may be in the interests of the elites, of those whose "EU" connections academic and political take them criss crossing the continent but on the ground where the chaos of EU competition law is worked out for instance on the railways, what a Labour voter sees is simply not what they wish to see. This is a raw argument about what people see in their own lives every day. This is a mass of voters for whom all the economic numbers and warnings don't resonate. You can warn about a pension in the future but what use is that if a Roumanian or a Turk has your job. Remain don't want migration to be the issue, but the raw fact of accomodating a quarter of a million new persons each year will make sure it is. Free movement of people and the free market should not have been connected. Great Britain will need immigrants for years to come but it should be able to choose who they are and to expel them when it has to. Control of Borders is fundamental to a nation state and if we don't have it, the nation state will be Europe, that is the choice. And yes we do have a special relationship on Borders with the EU but it is not preventing a global mass movement into Europe and it is not allowing us to tell people their time is up and remove them.

I truly don't know today how I will vote next week but after this weekend, I probably feel I am becoming clearer where the vote will land. If substantial numbers of Labour are themselves set on ticking Leave, then the story is over and what British politicians will have to do is settle down to implementing the will of the people and many will feel an election will be required for a new set of leaders prepared to undertake this to be chosen. At which point Mr Corbyn can reveal his authentic anti EU colours! After which given the Leave instruction, as a matter of fact the vote does not mean Britain leaves. It is a "guidance note" which then has to be negotiated and that means whoever is in Number 10 can go and seek some rather different end result to the binary in/out question being asked. In a few months time someone might be saying to the EU "oh yes, we will keep our membership, you can have a lot of money, but the right of free movement is not on the table". And there again Remain may win and none of this will be said...........................

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