The Prime Minister has been called an appeaser for her closeness to Donald Trump. That is a result of this country’s desperate search for new friends now that we are shunning our 27 partners in Europe.
So, while Labour are hurling insults with 1930’s echoes in them at Mrs May, let’s see if the same cap fits on Kier Starmer. He’s the Brexit spokesman for Labour. They’ve been assuring us during the passage of the bill triggering our exit from the EU that, whilst respecting the vote to Leave, they would fight hard for concessions. One of these was to get the government to have a vote in parliament at the end of the negotiations with a view to sending Mrs May back to the negotiating table if MPs found the deal unsatisfactory.
What happened in the Commons on Tuesday was frankly an embarrassment and shows the poor quality of Labour’s front bench. As soon as the government announced there would be a vote, Starmer hailed it as a significant victory. All we needed was for him to hold a piece of paper above his head, Neville Chamberlain style, and the image would have been complete. This is because it rapidly became clear that all the government was offering was approval of the package or an exit from Europe with no deal which few would vote for.
A Labour MP last week, who’s a friend, was gently chiding me last week for my view that there should have been a united front by Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems behind a second referendum. Labour’s way was better I was told. Well it clearly isn’t. Labour are constantly being pushed aside and divided by a Tory government where Brexit extremists are making all the running.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Claire Perry, the Conservative MP for Devizes. She said in the debate that she felt she was sitting beside jihadists on the Tory benches for whom no Brexit is hard enough. Their view was “be gone you evil Europeans and don’t darken our doors again.”
One can trace the ascent of this extremism in the Tory Party by listening to Ken Clarke, the only Tory to vote against the bill in principal last week. When he entered parliament in 1970, such people were still clinging on to the British Empire and denounced one nation Conservatives like Iain Macleod for giving away the colonies.
For a while they became less significant as Ted Heath took us into the Common Market and then Margaret Thatcher signed up to the Single Market. Soon after that the tide turned with the very same Margaret Thatcher doing a U turn. They then harried John Major into the biggest defeat the Tories had suffered in decades. In opposition, the scepticism grew and back in government they forced a weak David Cameron to allow a referendum with a ludicrous in/out option. Even though it was narrowly carried, they show no respect for that and are now hell bent on a hard Brexit.
The only choice for Labour was to back the Lib Dems clear position of a second referendum but centre left sectarianism triumphed and there is total disarray in the face of a skilful Prime Minister leading her hard line Brexiteers.
Follow me at www.jimhancock.co.uk