Labour’s Brexit Policy is Actually Fairly Simple

I posted a Twitter thread on the Labour Party’s Brexit Policy, and thought I’d post it here.

When people say that they don’t understand the Labour Party policy on Brexit what do they mean?

Do they mean that they genuinely don’t understand it? Or that they think the ‘general public’ won’t understand it? #

I suspect the latter, which is patronising and wrong. I’m a card carrying member of the ‘general public’ and I understand Labour’s #Brexit policy just fine. It’s so simple I can summarise it in a couple of tweets: #

  1. 1. Labour thinks remaining in the EU is in the UK national interest.
  2. 2. Labour acknowledges the 2016 referendum vote was to Leave the EU.
  3. 3. The only democratic way to reverse or implement this policy is a confirmatory public vote. #
  4. 4. Because of (2), Labour will negotiate an optimal withdrawl deal in good faith.
  5. 5. But because of (1), recommending Remain is the only politically honest policy for Labour during the confirmatory vote. #

Two fucking tweets. That’s a Brexit policy short enough to explain on a doorstep, at rallies, on broadcast interviews, leader’s debates, and in memes. Even short enough for, y’know… Twitter. #

Sure, the Labour policy is not as short at the Tory and Liberal Democrat policies, which can fit in a single tweet. Whoopee-do!

But brevity is not always a virtue. Especially not for something as messy as Brexit, where brevity is suspicious and lazy. #

And if you disagree with any of the numbered points above, then, well, don’t vote Labour. But only one of them (the first) is particularly divisive, but actually I think Corbyn is well placed to persuade enough Labour Leave vote of the overall soundness of the policy. #

While brief and clear, the Tory and Lib Dem policies will each immediately alienate half the country. Winner takes all, and if you lose then… fuck you. That’s precisely the attitude that got us into this impasse in the autumn of 2016. #

At least the Labour policy — two tweets long except for one, G-d help us — acknowledges the other side of the debate. And offers a genuinely democratic way out of the morass. Tory and Lib Dem polices based on fiat. #

I feel particularly strongly about the ‘brevity’ point. So much ‘savvy’ political commentary is predicated on the idea that voters need things explained in simple terms. But leaving the European Union is a complex issue, both in terms of the benefits, trade-offs and drawbacks of the possible policy positions, and in the procedures of withdrawal and subsequent trade negotiations. Its also complex in the British political context, with competing sources of political legitimacy offered by the referendum and general elections, and in terms of the cultural, social and geographic issues for which Brexit has become a proxy.

So anyone who presents a simple solution to the problem — whether Leave or Remain — is skimming something they shouldn’t.

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