Left-wing Brexiteers should not be perturbed by the Chequers Plan – Corbyn can finish the job in due course

Left-wing Brexiteers should not be perturbed by the Chequers Plan – Corbyn can finish the job in due course

The fondness for hyperbole by Boris Johnson and others has led them to deride the Chequers proposal as ‘Britain heading to the status of a colony’ or ‘becoming a vassal state’, both of which are hypes too far.

The Chequers proposal has not delivered on everything the people voted for, but it has delivered on most of what they had in mind. If that wasn’t the case, then why have the hard-nosed Remainers – the likes of Chuka Umunna – refused to endorse it?

What is left unrealised by Chequers, including the restriction on state aid, has to be a priority for future governments to achieve; unlike diamonds, the trade deals and treaties are not for ever – they can be revised, renegotiated and even annulled.

The agonising turmoil gripping Westminster is a demonstration of the folly of sub-contracting economic security to a foreign body. The task of a post-Brexit government is to reset the UK economy towards self-reliance, something that a Tory government wedded to neo-liberalism will be unable and unwilling to do; hence my belief in the need for a Corbyn-led government for any advance on that front.

Brexit has always involved two phases: the first phase is leaving the EU and all its institutions and a second phase, which almost overlaps with the first, determines our new relationship with the EU and the world. The first phase has been completed with the passage of the EU Withdrawal Act and the repeal of the of the European Communities Act. The second phase, our actual relationship with the EU once we leave, is in the hands of the government of the day and it is its responsibility to come up with proposals for the way forward.

When Jeremy Corbyn chose to use all of his six questions at Prime Minister’s Questions immediately before the crunch Chequers Cabinet meeting to highlight deteriorating bus services instead of berating Theresa May on Brexit, he was ridiculed by some Conservative MPs and parts of the media. In fact, he was reflecting the views of the vast majority of people in Britain who want the Government to get on with it.

The arguments have been had and the Government had to come to some sort of conclusion. It may not be the conclusion that Corbyn would have come up with, but he is not in government and Theresa May is. He acted in the national interest again when he chose not to press the Prime Minister for details following her statement on the Chequers Plan to the Commons, unlike some of his colleagues who found the proposals unacceptable because they did not provide close enough a relationship with the EU and, if they had their way, would keep us in that institution in all but name.

The argument by some Brexiteers that the Government is giving too many concessions too early in the negotiating process means that they are prepared to accept these concessions, provided they are agreed at the end of the process; there isn’t much adherence to principles here! The Government needs a policy and having arrived at one, it must stick to it, making it clear that further compromises are not on the cards.

If the EU fails to accept what is on offer and insists on the inviolability of the Single Market and the four freedoms, let them be responsible for the break-up of negotiations. They would then have to explain to German car workers and French wine producers why they lost their livelihoods.

In every great national endeavour – and there is no greater national endeavour than leaving the EU – there are the detractors and the purists and idealists. The detractors, the likes of Nick Clegg and Alastair Campbell, want nothing less than the UK remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union; they lost – we are leaving on 29th March next year. The purists want everything in one go or nothing at all, but they have to give way.

The bruising turbulence in the Tory Party and the chaos in the Government has reignited the hope among EU leaders that the UK may after all follow their time-honoured practice of having a second vote when the first one goes against their wishes – a useful reminder of why many people voted to leave that bureaucratic institution. The EU seems incapable of understanding that, unlike in Brussels where the only valid votes are those of which the establishment approves, in the UK a referendum vote is binding on Parliament and the government and must be adhered to.