The only group Labour opposition to Brexit won’t help is the Labour Party

The only group Labour opposition to Brexit won’t help is the Labour Party

The Remainer resistance is hoping that the difficulties of the Brexit negotiations will force Britons to change their minds, realise that they were wrong to reject the advice of the elite in the first place, and crawl back into the EU. Now they demand that Labour must come out against Brexit full stop and demand a re-referendum to allow the nation to stand on its head.

Since all those asking Labour to lay down its future for Europe one has to ask, as they magnify every difficulty, defend every EU policy and criticise every British approach, whose side are they on? Labour’s sacrifice would certainly please Polly Toynbee and the others who urged the party to campaign for their objectives, then the bomb and EU membership, in 1981. When it refused they broke away in the SDP and kept Labour out of power for eighteen years. It would also please Yesterday’s Men – Tony, Mandy and the rest – and bring us into line with those goneburgers, the LibDems. It would even gratify the pundits like Steve Richards by proving that they’d been right all along.

The only group it wouldn’t help is the Labour Party. It would be faced with new divisions and difficulties if it gave EU membership a higher priority than power, national regeneration or democracy. Labour could hardly win back the left behind people, many of them Labour supporters all from sections of society and regions which normally vote Labour. They voted to come out, and who knows what they’ll think after being buggered about for two years by an EU which can neither negotiate nor balance the relationship better.

It won’t get us any better terms. Poor old David Cameron got nothing to help him win the referendum, and after forcing Britain to jump hurdles rather than negotiating, the EU then can’t agree anything. A 27-headed hydra is totally inflexible. Such intransigence is no way to win friends and influence Brits, particularly if it’s coupled with threats and dirty tricks like cutting back on grants to Britain, stealing our banks and financial services and plotting the downfall of the City of London. Giving the EU hope that Labour will crawl back to the fold isn’t going to make the hydra more accommodating.

If the last-ditch Remainers get their way Britain will be asked to go back, humiliated, tail between our legs and swallowing our pride, not to a position of leadership in the EU, but to a pathetic periphery. All the action in the EU now focuses on the French proposals to reform the Euro to make it work, rather than deflate. Those outside the Eurozone are relegated to a periphery outside the action and the few proposals for redistribution to help the laggards will be minimal and restricted to Euro members. Those on the periphery won’t count.

Labour’s concern must be for jobs and growth, but we won’t be able to defend them without stopping the drain of money and jobs to the EU. Membership charges are £11 billion and certain to rise. Our deficit with the single market is £60 billion and the costs of the CAP, a further £15 billion, all of which we have to borrow, because Britain can no longer pay its way in the world.

There’s no way of stopping that drain unless we rebuild production in our lopsided economy. That involves government investment, support and planning of the type Asian competitors have used to build powerful exporting sectors. The EU proscribes all that, so the only alternative will be to cut costs, reduce wages and taxes and join the race to the bottom. Does Labour want that?

It’s too late for Eurowishful thinking. The only way forward is to negotiate hard for what the people voted for, forget the futile claims that they didn’t vote for this, that or the other, and fight for Labour’s traditional priorities of jobs, betterment, growth and a strong economy which works for the people. To throw up our hand in fear of the difficulties is to say that the people are wrong, the EU has beaten us before we can even get to round one and Britain is now so feeble it couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag.

Building a better society was never going to be easy, but if we can’t even lay the foundations because we’re drained by an EU run in the interests of Germany, then we’ve given up altogether.