Winner of the New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy 2016

Friday 9 August 2019

The Remainers urging people to vote for a No Deal Brexit

You might think the title above is nonsense: how can a Remainers vote for No Deal? I would have agreed with you a month ago. But since then I have noticed many so called Remainers saying that people cannot possibly vote for Labour in the forthcoming General Election because Labour, or Corbyn and his advisors, are pro-Brexit. These are the Remainers who are trying to persuade you to vote for No Deal.

Anyone who gives the matter a seconds thought will realise that Brexit is impossible under a Labour government. I may have understood this sooner than most but it is not hard. As soon as you see that the Conservative party is (because of Farage and their Brexiter MPs) bound to No Deal, you can also see that Corbyn could never get any kind of Brexit through parliament, unless it was a form of Brexit designed to be lost in a referendum to end the Brexit process.

The key point is that the Tories will vote against any kind of soft Brexit. The only MPs who might vote for a soft Brexit are the minority of Labour MPs that want it and maybe a few Tory MPs that don’t want No Deal and are prepared to defy their leader. Even if it went to a referendum, the combination of No Deal Brexiters and Remainers will easily triumph over a soft Brexit. Under a Labour government Brexit is dead, whatever Labour’s leader might think.

In many ways, a Labour government is the best way to end Brexit. If it goes to a referendum, it will be Remain against a soft form of Brexit, which is what should have happened after the 2016 referendum. That is a much safer referendum than Remain versus No Deal. In fact a Labour government is probably the only way Brexit can be sure to end, as Johnson even as the leader of a minority government will never agree to end Brexit, and may still try to force us to crash out.

As a result, those who say (like the leader of the LibDems) that people cannot vote for Labour because Labour are not led by a Remainer are either dishonest or haven't understood that Labour cannot achieve Brexit. But either way it is an extremely dangerous thing to say, because it is a likely to end up allowing No Deal. If parliament does vote against No Deal every Remainer in the subsequent General Election has to vote tactically.

It means in England voting for LibDem candidates in LibDem/Tory marginals, but it also means voting for Labour candidates in Lab/Con marginals. That is the only clear way a Johnson victory can be stopped. It doesn’t even matter if the Labour MP is pro-Brexit, because every Labour MP deprives the Conservatives of government.

So every Remainer telling you that you cannot vote Labour is telling you to vote for a No Deal outcome. Everyone who says you cannot vote for Labour because “Corbyn is evil” in various ways is telling you to vote for a No Deal outcome. Everyone telling you that you cannot vote Labour because Labour “is an antisemitic party” is telling you to vote for No Deal. And when it comes to a General Election, there will be some who will say you cannot vote Labour because they want Boris Johnson and No Deal to win.


  1. This is motivated reasoning. You want a Labor govt because you might personally benefit from it. So you say Labor is the best govt. from all angles ranging from Foreign Policy, NHS, Economy, Brexit, etc. You'd have us believe that some newspapers are the reason Conservatives won since 2010. It is also pretty clear you'd support a Labor govt. gagging the press and prohibiting publication of anything opposed to the Left.

  2. Well Labour is (or has become) an antisemitic party.
    So one should not vote for it; Brexit or no Brexit.
    Or is anti-Jewish racism to be tolerated/encouraged because the Brexit risks are worse?

  3. I think the majority of those aged fifty and under have worked this out.

  4. I think you may be wrong. Stopping Brexit will need an immediate alliance of cross-party MPs. I have been coming to the reluctant conclusion that the further Corbyn is away from such an alliance, the greater its chance of success.
    You can think of three different groups of MPs. 1) The hard core Brexiteers, mainly Tory, but with an uncomfortably large rump of Labour dinosaurs. 2) MPs who see Brexit as a disaster and are prepared to put country before party. e.g. Dominic Grieve, Sam Gyimah, David Lammy or Peter Kyle. 3) The large group who equally see Brexit as a disaster, but might put party before country. The third group will be essential to stopping Brexit, but I suspect that Corbyn will deter wavering Tories, with no compensating gain elsewhere.
    If MPs can apply the brakes and stall Brexit, there will be another situation and probable election. But I fear that Corbyn has just lost too much credibility and trust over Brexit to win.

  5. Worth pointing out that Corbyn, at a deep level was (is?) a LEXITER. SO referring to him as a Brexitter as the Lib Dems do and most Remainers is the height of illiteracy.

    Corbyn, as is well known, was an acolyte of Benn who campaigned to leave the EEC. Benns predictions of the EEC becoming a fraternity of banking and financial interests aligned with capital turned out to be 100% accurate.

    The notion that the EU is reformable is risible. Even as I type these letters the ECB is about to get one of the most extreme right wing people possible who oversaw the plunder of Greece and the now infamous 'structural adjustment' programs that denuded economies of their wealth.

    Both Leavers and Remainers are delusional and subconsciously tango-ing in each others arms, inadvertently propping up neo-liberalism.

  6. “If it goes to a referendum, it will be Remain against a soft form of Brexit.”

    This is cloud cuckoo land. If MPs and Corbyn have been reluctant to back a second referendum, they are hardly likely to back a ‘fake’ referendum, if they do relent.

    In order to get full backing for a new referendum, there will have to be negotiations in order to agree what options would be offered. It will have to be full People’s Vote covering a wide range of options; nothing else will get agreement. A Labour MP in a Leave constituency will lose face and votes in agreeing a second referendum. It would be political suicide to agree a fully adulterated referendum.

  7. Please can you rephrase/explain your wording which is not clear to me:
    "As soon as you see that the Conservative party is (because of Farage and their Brexiter MPs) bound to No Deal, you can also see that Corbyn could never get any kind of Brexit through parliament, unless it was a form of Brexit designed to be lost in a referendum to end the Brexit process."

  8. No deal is the legal default: if governments do nothing, that is what is going to happen. Labour has spent the best part of three years prevaricating about what it will do, and in its most recent policy declarations it still clings to the fantasy that it will be able to negotiate a different, fresh Brexit settlement. You write that Labour may forestall no deal if there is a referendum and if it offers a choice between revocation and a soft Brexit. This is wishful thinking. We're out of time.

    There are two conditions that must be met to stop a no deal Brexit. The first condition is that the law has to be changed, and that has to be done before 31st October. The second condition is that any future action must be agreed with the EU. Our government gave notice more than two years ago, and we are now in a period where we have no clear entitlements and depend on their grace and favour - - we don't even know, at this stage, whether they will accept revocation on the previous terms. A Labour government would not have the option of restarting negotiations from scratch. It would have to commit clearly, unequivocally, directly and decisively to a position agreeable to the EU - most probably revocation with a commitment to full future participation - with or without a second vote. There is no sign that that will happen, and without it, no deal will happen instead. A vote for Labour is a vote for no deal.


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