Embrace Antisemitism to Remain?

BY JAMIE FOSTER

Labour moderates seem to be considering a deal with Corbynites in order to prevent Brexit.

Despite having been savagely attacked over years, the moderates are so concerned about Brexit that they might be prepared to halt their attacks on Corbyn and play down the antisemitism that is rife in the party if Corbyn will vote against Theresa May’s Brexit plan. Leading Remainer moderates such as Lord Adonis and David Lammy have been taking people to task for attacking Corbyn and suggesting there is a way to avoid a split if Corbyn can get behind a second referendum.The ‘people’s vote’ movement are keen to get the reds onside for the second referendum campaign. So much so that it might avoid a split in the Labour Party which seemed almost inevitable until recently.

This strategy seems unlikely to find support with Jewish MPs and some hard core moderates who have reached the end of their tethers but there are a plenty of moderates who are so embroiled in the Brexit argument that they would sacrifice anything in the hope of avoiding Brexit. They are also institutionalised as Labour Party members and can’t imagine anything outside the comfort of the party. It is as if two cults, the cult of Corbyn and the cult of the Labour Party have come together for reasons of self interest.

It will be interesting, coming into conference season, to see if this uneasy truce holds and the two sides can bury their differences. Can the totemic issue of Brexit reduce the principled differences between moderates and the far left to nothing? It is an issue that has made many mad and seems to be likely to make many more mad also.

The moderate left is incapable of putting up with the fact that they lost the vote and were left on the wrong side of history. Their every waking thought is about how to frustrate the will of the people as expressed in the referendum. Could this desire be the one that forces them to help the far left achieve power? The far left, on the other hand, has an odd relationship with Brexit. There is a sector of the far left that campaigned for it and wants it to come to pass. This sector will need to be outnumbered by leftists who simply want power at all costs and are willing to fall in with the moderates on Brexit to achieve it.

Corbyn himself has an odd approach to Brexit. He came out for remain during the referendum but in such a half hearted way people suspected he was really for leave. He had spent most of his political career criticising the EU as a project. He is certainly not a dyed in the wool remainer like many in his party. Can he give the remainers what they want in order to keep the truce alive?

As the Brexit train heads towards the station, Corbyn and Labour will have a limited opportunity to affect its progress. It is here that the truce is at its most vulnerable. It is likely to fall apart if it seems that nothing can be done to derail Brexit. A no deal Brexit is the hardest for the moderates to cope with and by failing to support any deal Theresa May comes up with, Labour will be helping us towards a no deal Brexit. At that point we can anticipate fireworks between frustrated remainers and their far left co-conspirators.

In the meantime it is an odd marriage to watch. It is hard to say how much damage the left can sustain amongst ordinary Labour voters who are for leave. They have been sold down the river by both the moderates and the far left in this scenario. The main beneficiary of any compact between them are the anti Chequers Brexiteers who would prefer a no deal exit to a Chequers compromise. They stand to benefit from Labour refusing to support Chequers. They are exactly the group that neither the moderates nor the far left in the Labour Party would consciously wish to advantage but the law of unforeseen consequences comes into play in this scenario. Whatever happens it will be pretty ugly stuff from a party that is splitting apart at the seams and may stay together only to try to subvert the democratic will of the people of Great Britain. Hardly worth thinking about is it?

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