Is Remain defeated or in tactical retreat?

On Brexit, the Tories now have nowhere to hide.

Labour’s Remain MPs accept that Brexit is now happening. So is this the end of the war, or merely the conceding of a battle? Are Remain defeated or in tactical retreat?

Labour MP Wes Streeting has spoken of Boris Johnson’s predicament on winning the election: “He’s got no hiding places, no scapegoats, no one else to blame. Boris Johnson is now accountable for all the promises made in the referendum and the general election.”

So holding the government to account is the backbench strategy. If the leadership contenders are smart enough to prove their muscle, they will compete to hammer the Tories and Labour will be setting the agenda.

If not, then Labour will engage in a period of naval gazing followed by a new leadership whose strategy we don’t yet know. What we do know is that the failure to oppose Brexit has caused us huge problems previously.

Labour did not cause Brexit to be delayed for three years. Labour voted for the referendum and accepted the outcome. A year after the referendum Labour voted for Article 50. Another one and a half years later Theresa May finally came back with her Brexit deal and Boris Johnson along with Labour voted against it.

Brexit has dragged on because it is impossible to meet the opposing objectives of the Brexiteers, yet Boris Johnson did a good job of arguing that the problem has been due to Labour. Our compliance has been used as a weapon against us while our opposition was never heard because it was never made.

This is a war of attrition and it is tempting to give up and fold, to concede and move on. But in their victory the Tories have never been so weak, because as Wes Streeting so eloquently points out, they have nowhere else to hide.

For Johnson, everything has been staked on Brexit. In the last negotiation he was so desperate that he agreed to give up Northern Ireland and place a border down the North Sea. This means that the EU no longer fears a border being built across Ireland so they can play hardball with the British from now on.

What the EU have learnt is that the Tories will always concede at the last minute. Every time the Tories have negotiated, they have always thrown in the towel at the midnight hour then pretended to the home audience that they have won.

The misery facing Johnson is that his new intake of MPs are mostly aligning with the ERG making that pressure group more powerful. Yet his votes in the election were gained through the promise that Brexit would no longer generate daily rancour in the news. He really is running out of road.

His latest tactic is to argue that he must be allowed to negotiate in secret, but that’s exactly what Theresa May tried to do to cover up her lack of strategic objective.

Compared to May Boris Johnson is much better at doing politics, but with all his bridges burnt, the question remains whether Labour MPs will allow him to swim.

The question for Remain Labour is this: did we lose the war, or merely concede the battle?

Dan Mccurry is the chair of the Labour Party Economics Society. He lives in East London and works as a criminal defence lawyer.

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

12 Responses to “Is Remain defeated or in tactical retreat?”

  1. Julia Gibb

    Let’s face reality!

    Boris has a huge majority and will be in power for quite some time.
    A hard Brexit is the reality and the only question is how hard.
    The only routes now open to anyone are;
    a) A United Ireland
    b) an Independent Scotland

    I am certain that the majority of people in the UK are now Remainers but that will never be tested now. In 5 years time at the next election the future of what is left of the U.K. Will be very, very different.

    It is over. No political options are available. If you live in N/Ireland embrace the border poll and stay in the EU. If you live in Scotland vote YES for a different future by staying in the EU.

  2. peem birrell

    “Labour will engage in a period of naval gazing”

    I see no ships.

  3. nshgp

    a) A United Ireland
    ====
    Why? Ireland has agreed to the GFA with the UK which means no borders. Ireland needs to keep to its treaties.

    b) Scotland.

    Apparently, for a vote, people need to know what they are voting for. So all the negotiations need to be done in advance. ie. No pound from day zero, no support for the banks. No tax transfers. Oh, and points based if the Scots want to flee south.

  4. steve

    If Brexit is the disaster Remainers predicted there would be plenty of mileage in a continued second referendum campaign.

    But where are the ‘Peoples’ Vote’ marchers? Where is Alistair ‘Peoples’ Vote’ Campbell. What’s happened to Kier Starmer’s struggle for Remain? Where now are the EU flag wavers? What’s happened to the millionaire-backed campaign. They’ve all gone quiet.

    They didn’t believe in their predictions nor their campaign after all.

    Yet their refusal accept the referendum result and the inclusion of Starmer’s disastrous 2nd referendum policy in the manifesto succeeded in driving down the Labour vote in the heartlands and opened the door to the Tories.

    And that, we must conclude, was their primary purpose.

    Job done. They wrecked the Labour Party now they can put their feet up and forget all about their campaign.

  5. Labour's Filthy Hospitals

    LOL at the idea that Boris is in a “predicament” having won an 80 seat majority on boundaries gerrymandered against him.

    The real predicament is Remainers’, who’ve relied on abolishing Britain gradually and by stealth. Every time a little bit of sovereignty was taken away Remainers first said it would never happen, then they’d say the debate was over, and then when it did happen they said we’d agreed to it anyway.

    Now they will have to campaign for Rejoin. And all those things Remainers have always said would never happen because they knew nobody would vote for them, like joining the Euro or losing the rebate, will be part of the Rejoin deal. And Remain will have to actually sell abolition of the £ and get people to vote for it, where before they could have just lied about it and it would have happened anyway.

    Cloud cuckoo land, but a good example of how backward looking Labour and Remainers are – hankering for the past and the days of EU empire.

    Fun fact: the German word for an empire without an emperor is “Reich”.

  6. Nick Elvidge

    Err… Filthy Hospital, the first Reich was called ; ‘The Holy Roman Empire’ – it lasted 1000 years from Charlemagne’s coronation by the Pope in AD 800 to its abolition by Napoleon in 1806…so if you cant even get that right what value your unsubstantiated and uncouth opinions?

  7. john zims

    Labour got hammered because many of their voters got sick of the lies.
    In 2017 Labour promised to abide by the referendum result & then over the next two years went into reverse gear,even when May came up with an EU deal identical to Labour’s ,workers rights, Environmental protection etc. plus staying in the Customs Union the morons still voted against it.

    Guess some people are so stupid they always have to find out the hard way, still they can now focus on trying to get a hung parliament in 2028/9..

  8. Labour's Filthy Hospitals

    I’ve got an idea how Labour can get re-elected: extend the franchise to the people who died in Labour-run hospitals of a disease they didn’t have when they went in.

    Millions of new Labour voters*!

    * or “vooters” if yer in Scawtlun

  9. Chester Draws

    But in their victory the Tories have never been so weak

    The Labour Party would love to that weak!

    The question for Remain Labour is this: did we lose the war, or merely concede the battle?

    Oh, that’s an easy one — you lost the war.

  10. Joe

    It is no longer a case of ‘Remain’. The term ‘Remainer’ is now redundant.

    Are we going to see a Labour campaign to Rejoin?

    That would see the Tories in power for the foreseeable future.

  11. Jill Brian

    We Remainers don’t give up that easily. The battles are yet to come and will be easier to win when Brexit crumbles around Boris Johnson’s feet, and he tries to explain that it was a brilliant idea.
    My son who lives in Scotland has even suggested that his parents and siblings might like to move to Scotland and watch the Brexit chaos from a safe distance !

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.