A vision for post-Brexit Britain that might appeal to Labour-voting Leavers

A vision for post-Brexit Britain that might appeal to Labour-voting Leavers

Here Austin Mitchell summarises Labour’s Vision of an Independent Britain, published this week by Labour Leave.

Only in a party as Euro-daft as the Labour Party would I have to praise our little effort as Labour Leavers to warn the party of the folly of trying to subvert the verdict of the people by negating their desire to come out of a European Union which has drained Britain of its economic strength ever since Ted Heath took us in (on a minuscule majority which he won only because 69 Labour rebels liked the EEC more than the party line).

Our pamphlet makes it clear that Labour risks permanently alienating the two fifths or so of our supporters who voted for Brexit. It betrays democracy, continuing to wish the vote away by undermining our negotiators. They support an EU determined to humiliate us and threatening to reject not only the invocation of Article 50 but any outcome that emerges.

It’s understandable that many of our leaders would support EU membership: the vested interests of MEPs, present and former, our Euro-pensioners and those councils which forget that EU grants are only our money back with their heavy costs deducted would have led to that.

The mistake was to commit the party to campaigning for Remain, spend good money doing it and then denounce Jeremy Corbyn because as a long-standing sceptic he could hardly suddenly turn into another Roy Hattersley. We were campaigning to save Cameron’s bacon. Greater love hath no party.

That folly was engineered by the Eurofanatics without consulting the party. It led inevitably to other follies all well brought out in our pamphlet. Tom Harris makes it clear that in Scotland it boosted the nationalists, angered the Scottish fishermen suffering under the Common Fisheries Policy and enabled the SNP to start demanding a new referendum on the grounds that if Britain left the Scots  would want to stay.

In Northern Ireland, as Pauline Haddaway makes clear, it undermined the peace process, provoking fears about the border and encouraging Sinn Fein to echo the SNP by questioning the Union.

James Miles tackles the vexed issue of immigration. This was clearly a widespread worry but Labour’s lack of concern alienated our supporters while the sermons preached by Jeremy Corbyn and others telling the people that they should love something they so obviously disliked, put us out on a limb and probably helped UKIP.

Each of these issues is well covered but the most worrying chapter is by John Mills who points out that being shackled to the single market would require us to pay over the odds, accept unrestricted European immigration and commit us to the Common Agricultural Policy’s agricultural protection which makes it difficult to come to trade arrangements and pushes up food prices.

As Mills makes clear, the bonus of Brexit is the fall in the value of the pound from the excessively high levels to which austerity and the tide of funny money flowing in to purchase British companies, property and assets has pushed it.

Labour has consistently failed to recognise that the gaping balance of payments which EU membership has contributed, requires the pound to come down if it is to be closed. The only way to combat industrial decline and rebuild manufacturing is to use the price mechanism produced by a competitive exchange rate making imports dearer and exports cheaper. We should have recognised this when the Tory devaluation of 1992 produced the improvement in the economy from which the Blair Government benefited until we threw it away by letting the pound go up.

Bryan Gould’s chapter supports this expansionism by advocating borrowing to build what we might call people’s quantitative easing, i.e. printing money in the way the Bank of England has already, but using it to build houses and improve our disintegrating infrastructures rather than allowing the banks to stash it away in their reserves or issuing ever more mortgages to fuel rising house prices.

I don’t particularly like having to puff my own pastry but with Labour verging on the Euro-daft, our Eurofanatics aren’t going to do it. This is a good antidote to present follies and an excellent guide to the route Labour must take to get back into a close relationship with the people.