Here’s the new deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson:
She rightly highlights the importance of Britain remaining in both the Single Market and the customs union (with, of course, the easiest way to do that to be a democratic decision to remain in the European Union).
The Lib Dem failure to garner more political support for that viewpoint in the 2017 general election is of course one of the key lessons for the party to work out. Part of the reason was Labour’s success at bolting on the support of a large number of ardent Remainers to a party led by a Eurosceptic in Jeremy Corbyn.
A scenario in which Labour has a pro-Brexit general election manifesto would both attract a lot of media attention for its policy – and also cause a lot of internal dissension in Labour ranks. The idea of a left-wing Labour leader insisting his party must support a right-wing Conservative government on the major issue of the day is so at odds with the usual widespread Labour line of ‘Tories are evil and don’t have anything to do with them’ (see coalition years, passim) that it is hard to predict how the fractures would play out. But they do therefore point to the risks for Labour – and opportunities for the Liberal Democrats … Polarising politics around Brexit may finally trigger the long-talked about realignment of British politics.
The time of this YouGov poll, which prompted that comment, feels a long time ago:
As it turned out, Jeremy Corbyn was very successful at putting together a coalition which contains a wide spread of views on Europe and with a large chunk holding strong views which are very different from his own.
If (and given that success, it should be added it is a big if) the Liberal Democrats can drive a wedge between Corbyn and many Labour voters using opportunities such as votes on the Single Market in the Parliament, then the Lib Dem recovery in this Parliament could be substantial. If.