Corbyn will refuse a general election, so there’s only one way through this crisis – a second Brexit vote
Corbyn is right, on principle and as a matter of political calculation, not to play ball with Boris Johnson. The people should have a Final Say
At last. After years of disappointment, Jeremy Corbyn has done the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time. He has not fallen, we’re led to believe, for what Tony Blair accurately called Boris Johnson’s “elephant trap” of an early election. He has, according to the briefings, decided to put killing off no-deal first, and an election second.
This is very much a principled move, in the national interest and (for a change) it is a Labour parliamentary manoeuvre that will succeed.
As it happens, with a persistent 10-point opinion poll deficit against the Tories, dodging a general election is also very much in his party’s interests – socialism is not about kamikaze politics, surely – it is about the interests of the people Labour seeks to protect.
If we want Brexit plus five years of radical free market government by Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab, then the best way to secure it – as the gangsters in Downing Street well know – is to accommodate what Corbyn rightly calls a “smash-and-grab” raid on the constitution now. The NHS, schools and local council services will be at their mercy; it would be the 1980s, or the 1930s, all over again – but worse. Not a good legacy for the Corbyn-McDonnell era.
So he is right, on principle, not to play ball with Boris Johnson and right, as matter of low political calculation, to resist the urge to pick up the gauntlet.
Which only leaves the question of what happens next. That’s easy to answer: more deadlock.
A proud man, despite his charming self-deprecation, Johnson is not going to obey the will of parliament and ask for an Article 50 extension or dilute his “do or die” mission in any way. He will whinge, and drag his feet, and pull faces, and mutter like a naughty Eton schoolboy being sent to the House Master’s study for some disciplinary action. He’d rather abscond than go and talk to Tusk.
So parliament has legislated for something that the prime minister physically cannot bring himself to do, and the impasse drags on. Maybe Europe might not offer a way out, and not an extension – except that they have said they would do so if we can find a democratic way of going ahead, and Angela Merkel has endless patience.
A general election – at any time – would be risky for either party, and most likely give us another confused and hung parliament, possibly this time round with Nigel Farage and a handful of Brexit Party troublemakers getting a foothold in the Commons. It wouldn’t solve the European question or much else.
Like Sherlock Holmes solving a crime, when all the obvious solutions are dispensed with there leaves only the once improbable: a Final Say referendum.
It is matter of logic. We will, sooner or later, have to put the question, now in its starkest binary form again, back to the people in a second referendum: No Deal or No Brexit? Leave or Remain?
This time it should be binding, by legislation, and no one can disagree with the result, on either side. And then the Brexit crisis, one way or another, will be over.