Keeping our eyes on the (Brexit) prize

European Commission building in Brussels

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay.

Stopping Brexit requires winning at least one vote in the House of Commons.

It may be more than one vote. There are many things that vote or those votes may be on: taking control of the order paper? no confidence motion? extend Article 50? revocation? and more.Β But at least one vote needs winning.

Which also means at least one, and most likely quite a lot more than one, Conservative or DUP Member of Parliament needs to be persuaded to rebel.

That’s the basic maths and that should be the basic starting point of any tactics to stop Brexit.

And that’s the problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s plan of ‘make me Prime Minister to have a general election about having a referendum on Brexit’.

It’s not only the tortuous sequence of events that his plan involves. Or that he has a decades-long record as a Euro-sceptic, took a holiday during the referendum campaign and had an office that Labour Remainers complained repeatedly undermined their campaign.

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It’s that if your starting point is ‘we must win over some Conservatives or DUP MPs’, following up with ‘and so our plan must involve making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister’ is blatantly counter-productive.

To win people over, you go for a plan that is as easy as possible for them to support, not one that is deliberately harder.

Imagine, for example, if MPs in other parties were trying to persuade the Liberal Democrats to back a set of constitutional reforms. Would insisting on having those fronted by, say, Nigel Farage make that persuasion easier or harder?

And so it is with Brexit. For Labour to insist it’ll only take action if Jeremy Corbyn gets to be Prime Minister is to elevate the importance of Buggins’ turn above the importance of stopping Brexit.

Just think of an EU citizen still facing huge uncertainty over where they can live and work. Or a patient facing disruption to their supply of life-saving medicines. Is the principle of Buggins’ turn really more important than securing their futures?

It isn’t. What matters is stopping Brexit, not prostrating ourselves at the feet of Buggins.


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