Theresa May’s warring Tories can’t negotiate Brexit :-: Politics
LONDON — As MPs return to Westminster after the annual conference season, the contrast between the two major parties’ approach to Brexit could not be clearer.
Labour is working in the national interest, while the Conservatives are too busy arguing with one another to even see the national interest.
Jeremy Corbyn told Labour’s annual conference in Brighton last month that there was no bigger test in politics right now than Brexit. And he’s right. The outcome of the Brexit negotiations will affect our lives for years to come and shape the country in which our children — and our children’s children — grow up.
We should be united in fighting for the best possible Brexit deal; a deal that puts jobs and the economy first, and forges a new partnership with our European neighbors.
Labour has been clear about how we would approach the negotiations. We would prevent a Brexit cliff-edge for the economy by seeking a time-limited transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently have with the EU. That means remaining in a customs union with the EU and within the single market for this period while we build a bridge to a strong final deal.
It’s a pragmatic approach that has been welcomed by many of the businesses and trade unions I have met over recent months.
But compare Labour’s approach to what we saw at the Tory conference in Manchester last week: A party riddled with division, unable to lead, unable to govern, and unable to negotiate Brexit.
When Theresa May traveled to Florence in September she appeared to accept — at least in principle — Labour’s call for a time-limited transitional period within the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.
And yet, within hours of arriving in Manchester, her colleagues started to undermine this position. Over five days, five of her most senior colleagues — Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom, Priti Patel and Brandon Lewis — put forward conflicting and contradictory statements about transitional arrangements.
Even without the Tory leadership melodrama, the government’s Brexit strategy has been left in tatters.
The Tories are directionless when it comes to Brexit. They are too busy negotiating with each other to negotiate effectively with the EU. Johnson has been accused of backseat driving over Brexit, but the truth is he is only interested in his own ambitions and not the country’s.
The single biggest threat to Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal is now Tory infighting. This has got to stop.
When May addresses parliament on Monday, she must tackle head on the fantasy Brexiteers in her Cabinet. She must put the national interest first.
We need an end to the uncertainty and a breakthrough in negotiations that can move discussions on to our future relationship with the EU.
If the prime minister is unable — or unwilling — to show leadership on the most crucial issue of our generation, then Labour will. Labour will stand up for Britain and secure a Brexit that works for the many, not the few.
Keir Starmer MP is Labour’s shadow secretary of state for exiting the European Union.