An excellent Twitter thread by Alistair King caught my attention yesterday, critiquing Keir Starmer’s supposed new slogan “make Brexit work”.

Meanwhile Andrew Adonis summed it up visually with this:

Aside from the snarky tweet, there is a nugget of something serious in this, namely how the Labour Party – as the only real parliamentary opposition there is in the UK just now – needs to get its messaging right.

Labour faces a conundrum: how does it manage to win back ex-Labour voters, many of them who voted Leave in 2016 and voted for Johnson’s Tories in 2019? While at the same time not haemorrhaging voters in urban areas to either the Lib Dems and Greens, many of whom were Remainers and are aghast at the UK’s current direction?

The crux, I think, is to not talk about Brexit – I mean to not use the word.

At the start Brexit meant simply the process of the UK leaving the EU, but as King’s thread rightly points out, the term has grown to mean much more than that – Brexit is the variant of leaving the European Union that Johnson and the Tories have pursued. You are never going to make that Brexit work, for intrinsic within it is too much antagonism towards the EU and too many practical headaches to be overcome.

If you doubt this, think of the current fight over the Northern Ireland Protocol – this Brexit essentially puts a customs border in the Irish Sea, and however you spin it or implement it, that is going to result in some political pain in Northern Ireland. Labour has to either accept this pain (probably not clever), or begin to propose an alternative UK-EU relationship that would relieve the problem at its root – namely to push for a closer economic relationship for the whole of the UK with the EU, that would be in the benefit of all of the UK, not just Northern Ireland.

If – as many suspect – it is only a matter of time before the UK Government triggers Article 16, what has Labour got in response? “We would not have been so rash” is not adequate without any sort of actual alternative, some different vision of what UK-EU relations ought to look like in the medium term.

That is why “make Brexit work” is no good as a slogan. It implies this Brexit, this Hard Brexit to use the old term, is only not working because the Tories did it badly. It acknowledges that, largely, this is the only Brexit that was available. And it basically says OK, the Tories were broadly right, and in communications terms Labour still fights on their turf.

Labour instead needs to take a step back. The UK’s exit from the EU is a legal reality. Labour is not favour of the UK rejoining the EU, and I understand and respect that. Hell, on the other side, the EU does not even want the UK back in just now! So the line from Brexiter-extremists that Labour just wants to Rejoin holds no water whatsoever, and should be flatly ignored. Labour is not in favour of the UK rejoining the EU. Period.

So what is Labour in favour of?

A new relationship with the EU. That the UK and the EU – as close neighbours and trade partners – need to collaborate when it makes mutual sense. That a permanent and sustainable solution for Northern Ireland needs to be found, perhaps through a SPS Agreement first and foremost, something that would also aid food exporters in the rest of the UK who have been struggling. And end to Frost’s threats and bombast. The UK, in other words, needs to become a better neighbour – because that is in everyone’s interests.

Britain is out of the EU. That’s done. It’s beyond question.

Brexit has become a loaded term – when it is said it means the Tories’ Brexit, an exit from the EU that is not just badly carried out but inherently unbalanced.

So accept the first (Britain is out of the EU) and refuse the terminology of the second (Brexit cannot be separated from this Brexit), and henceforth argue for a new relationship with the EU (from outside).

2 Comments

  1. Tim Putnam and Valerie Swales, LI

    A Labour International Perspective on Rebuilding UK-EU Relations

    Withdrawal from the European Union was a choice which would always involve significant change after half century of membership. However, Tory Governments have insisted on leaving the Single Market and Customs Union as well and Boris Johnson’s ideological approach to sovereignty added features which increase damage to the British economy. The Tory Government continues to undermine Britain’s position in the world by false claims and cultivated hostility. Survey data show Boris has cut Britain off from the world more than people want or business can support. The Tories dominate by denying the actual consequences of their chosen Brexit while continuing to evoke confrontation with the EU. This tyrannical manipulation will only recede when challenged. As Keir Starmer said when giving conditional support to the T&CA, if we hope to make any progress with the challenges the country faces now we must relentlessly expose and attempt to remedy the mess Boris is making of Brexit. Labour must propose immediate action to rebuild our relations with European countries and the European Union.

    We need to make clear that unlike the Tories, Labour is not obsessed with a quixotic rivalry with the European Union. Clearly, a closer relationship with the Union’s huge market next door is essential for Britain’s businesses in all kinds of goods and services. Even more important, if we look out in the world for partners who understand and believe in the values Labour holds dear, such as rights for employees, rights for citizens before the law, consumer protection and environmental standards, we cannot do without European partners. In the fields within its remit, the European Union (with UK participation) has been a leader in setting and advocating standards Labour would regard as positive more than any other major player. WTO standards for example, largely follow EU standards.

    We also need to make clear that although we recognise what we have in common with our neighbors in Europe and the economic, cultural and political benefits of closer association, Labour is not mounting a campaign to rejoin the EU. Why is this?
    After a long and tortuous process, Britain has negotiated withdrawal from the European Union and a framework for trade and cooperation as a Third Country which does not include an option to rejoin. This agreement, which was only one of several possible forms of Brexit, poses many challenges and choices to the country; to meet these, Labour needs to involve people irrespective of how they voted, or it will be unable to lead the country on any important question.
    Because of the hostile polemics pursued by Tory Governments during and following the withdrawal negotiations, Britain’s reputation in Europe and the world has been needlessly damaged. Britain needs to be and become known as a reasonable and reliable neighbor before any possible application to rejoin the Union could arise.
    Brexit has revealed the limited appreciation in Britain of what it means to fully participate in a European Union. Many on both sides of the referendum campaign chiefly considered membership in economic terms. There needs to be much greater understanding and appreciation of EU membership including political union before the choice of future affiliation can be a meaningful one.
    Some who accept the above points nevertheless consider that Labour should now advocating rejoining the European Single Market, because it would alleviate the economic damage Britain suffers as a Third Country. However:
    Single market participation without EU membership involves large-scale rule-taking which many find problematic and will re-invigotate Brexiteer knee-jerk sovereignty politics more than building values shared with the EU.
    Pursuing single market membership dissociates economics from politics, the opposite of what is needed to build recognition of shared values.
    The agreements with the European Union do not offer a short term route to rejoin the Single Market, Labour needs to be in government to even launch negotiations.
    The idea that Labour could get people to sign up for the Single Market for economic convenience after which then they will want membership to become rule-makers thus seems premature as well as simplistic and manipulative.

    Consequently, instead of proposing to rejoin the European Union or its Single Market, Labour should propose immediate practical steps to rebuild relations of mutual benefit with European states and the EU which are consonant with Labour’s people centred domestic and international policy. In the first instance, Labour should focus on challenging and changing aspects of the trade and cooperation agreement which everyone can readily understand are excessive because they go beyond what leaving the Single Market required and also run counter to Labour priorities in domestic and international policy:

    The Government must be pressed to honour the agreements it negotiated and signed concerning EU withdrawal, most especially those which are necessary to protecting peace and security for example on the island of Ireland. Labour should support constructive measures of implementation and relentlessly expose failure which threatens future peace and prosperity.
    Labour should propose that the Government negotiate mutual mobility between Britain and EU countries for business sales and service delivery, specific work contracts and assignments including design, culture and media industries and the performing arts, and study including complete degree programmes. By distinguishing between mutual mobility agreements and migration, Labour can also help disentangle the elements of ‘free movement’ which polarised Brexit debate.
    Labour should expose and reverse the damage inflicted by the Government’s hostility towards alignment with European standards. As with the lack of mobility, whole sectors have been put at risk even while alignment has been sought to benefit some others. Many professional services have been left without a process to establish mutual recognition of qualifications. Food producers have been badly exposed by the unwillingness to sign SPS agreements even though this adds to the difficulties of implementing the NI protocol. Evidently the food industry home market would be also be sacrificed in the event of a US trade deal. Chemical, aeronautical and pharmaceutical industries are left without alignmentv mutual recognition, whereas vis à vis data and financial services the Government has shown a willingness to quietly entertain de facto alignment with European standards behind a memorandum of understanding which provides a semblance of mutuality. As Labour exposes this political hypocrisy and economic incoherence, we should emphasise our politics of raising standards at home and abroad to protect conditions of employment, quality of life, community and environmental sustainability. Thus viewing standards as qualities and values puts alignment with EU standards in perspective. Often, the Union understands the issues and has arrived at a position Labour can relate to, for example in including carbon emissions in import tarifs which limits offshoring as well as protecting life on the planet. In the looming contention on data standards Labour’s values have much more in common with the EU position on data ownership than that of the US, and there will not be a Third Way in such essential dimensions of global connectiveness. Nowadays there is also an increased awareness of the importance of standards for global cooperation in health, security and other human rights as well as trade. Thus the European Union, which has made significant investments in establishing and raising global standards in many areas, will be an important partner for future Labour Governments.
    To defend its values and push for its priorities, Labour should actively communicate and collaborate with sister organisations and national governments in Europe as well as the European Union. We should seek coordinated and collaborative action on rights and standards, peace and security and climate change as well as cultural exchange and international frameworks for business and taxation. Labour should also challenge and seek to chqnge the damage done by withdrawing from European Union programs especially where this was not a necessary condition of leaving the Single Market. For example, limiting scientists’ future participation in Horizon and accompanying budget cuts threaten Britain’s position as a significant contributor to European and global and science only partially alleviated by the additional funds allocated this week. Withdrawal from Erasmus aims to cut our Universities and young people off from participation in Europe under the fig leaf of a pretend global replacement scheme devoid of necessary funding and institutional partnerships.
    Exclusion from Galileo and European criminal/terror threat data exchange are security and economic disasters that could and should have been avoided. The losses from Galileo are massive in quantity and quality and the pretence that Britain could mount it’s own replacement quickly fell by the wayside. There’s obviously no way that Britain can invent a substitute for the most sophisticated and extensive international database on crime and terror threats, even though it has resources which could have contributed to its further development and substantial needs to coordinate closely on security with our near neighbors. The extent of this disaster was acknowledged by Government when they stole the Schegen dataset before departure. There will be no replacement until we can rebuild relations. Labour can lead the way to a shared approach to mutual peace, security and defense interests and issues with our European neighbors much more effectively than the Tories – a good thing to demonstrate to the British public.

    Only when Labour succeeds in winning support for the values it believes should underpin Britain’s relations with other countries generally can we hope to develop a widely supported relationship with the European Union which goes beyond toxic Brexit polemics. In putting human rights at the heart of international relations, Labour puts people’s lives first and shows that it values peace, security and mutuality of understanding, obligation and economic benefit. This contrasts sharply with the Tories politics of threats, broken commitments and false promises of ‘wins’. In relation to Europe, Tory tactics have deprived the British people of meaningful choice about the best way to implement the referendum result. Britain’s present situation is neither a necessary consequence of leaving the EU nor even one knowingly chosen by a majority of the British people.

    Honouring agreements made with the European Union, facilitating mutually beneficial mobility, recognising shared values by aligning standards and coordinated and joint action will all help repair damage inflicted on Britain by the Tories handling of withdrawal from the European Union. In pursuing these, Labour should place our rebuilding of relations with Europe in the context of our rights-centred, people-first approach to international and domestic policy. In place of the Tory UK vs EU zero-sum game, Labour offers immediate benefits from the recognition of common values and interests as neighbors.

    A Labour International Perspective on Rebuilding UK-EU Relations

    Withdrawal from the European Union was a choice which would always involve significant change after half century of membership. However, Tory Governments have insisted on leaving the Single Market and Customs Union as well and Boris Johnson’s ideological approach to sovereignty added features which increase damage to the British economy. The Tory Government continues to undermine Britain’s position in the world by false claims and cultivated hostility. Survey data show Boris has cut Britain off from the world more than people want or business can support. The Tories dominate by denying the actual consequences of their chosen Brexit while continuing to evoke confrontation with the EU. This tyrannical manipulation will only recede when challenged. As Keir Starmer said when giving conditional support to the T&CA, if we hope to make any progress with the challenges the country faces now we must relentlessly expose and attempt to remedy the mess Boris is making of Brexit. Labour must propose immediate action to rebuild our relations with European countries and the European Union.

    We need to make clear that unlike the Tories, Labour is not obsessed with a quixotic rivalry with the European Union. Clearly, a closer relationship with the Union’s huge market next door is essential for Britain’s businesses in all kinds of goods and services. Even more important, if we look out in the world for partners who understand and believe in the values Labour holds dear, such as rights for employees, rights for citizens before the law, consumer protection and environmental standards, we cannot do without European partners. In the fields within its remit, the European Union (with UK participation) has been a leader in setting and advocating standards Labour would regard as positive more than any other major player. WTO standards for example, largely follow EU standards.

    We also need to make clear that although we recognise what we have in common with our neighbors in Europe and the economic, cultural and political benefits of closer association, Labour is not mounting a campaign to rejoin the EU. Why is this?
    After a long and tortuous process, Britain has negotiated withdrawal from the European Union and a framework for trade and cooperation as a Third Country which does not include an option to rejoin. This agreement, which was only one of several possible forms of Brexit, poses many challenges and choices to the country; to meet these, Labour needs to involve people irrespective of how they voted, or it will be unable to lead the country on any important question.
    Because of the hostile polemics pursued by Tory Governments during and following the withdrawal negotiations, Britain’s reputation in Europe and the world has been needlessly damaged. Britain needs to be and become known as a reasonable and reliable neighbor before any possible application to rejoin the Union could arise.
    Brexit has revealed the limited appreciation in Britain of what it means to fully participate in a European Union. Many on both sides of the referendum campaign chiefly considered membership in economic terms. There needs to be much greater understanding and appreciation of EU membership including political union before the choice of future affiliation can be a meaningful one.
    Some who accept the above points nevertheless consider that Labour should now advocating rejoining the European Single Market, because it would alleviate the economic damage Britain suffers as a Third Country. However:
    Single market participation without EU membership involves large-scale rule-taking which many find problematic and will re-invigotate Brexiteer knee-jerk sovereignty politics more than building values shared with the EU.
    Pursuing single market membership dissociates economics from politics, the opposite of what is needed to build recognition of shared values.
    The agreements with the European Union do not offer a short term route to rejoin the Single Market, Labour needs to be in government to even launch negotiations.
    The idea that Labour could get people to sign up for the Single Market for economic convenience after which then they will want membership to become rule-makers thus seems premature as well as simplistic and manipulative.

    Consequently, instead of proposing to rejoin the European Union or its Single Market, Labour should propose immediate practical steps to rebuild relations of mutual benefit with European states and the EU which are consonant with Labour’s people centred domestic and international policy. In the first instance, Labour should focus on challenging and changing aspects of the trade and cooperation agreement which everyone can readily understand are excessive because they go beyond what leaving the Single Market required and also run counter to Labour priorities in domestic and international policy:

    The Government must be pressed to honour the agreements it negotiated and signed concerning EU withdrawal, most especially those which are necessary to protecting peace and security for example on the island of Ireland. Labour should support constructive measures of implementation and relentlessly expose failure which threatens future peace and prosperity.
    Labour should propose that the Government negotiate mutual mobility between Britain and EU countries for business sales and service delivery, specific work contracts and assignments including design, culture and media industries and the performing arts, and study including complete degree programmes. By distinguishing between mutual mobility agreements and migration, Labour can also help disentangle the elements of ‘free movement’ which polarised Brexit debate.
    Labour should expose and reverse the damage inflicted by the Government’s hostility towards alignment with European standards. As with the lack of mobility, whole sectors have been put at risk even while alignment has been sought to benefit some others. Many professional services have been left without a process to establish mutual recognition of qualifications. Food producers have been badly exposed by the unwillingness to sign SPS agreements even though this adds to the difficulties of implementing the NI protocol. Evidently the food industry home market would be also be sacrificed in the event of a US trade deal. Chemical, aeronautical and pharmaceutical industries are left without alignmentv mutual recognition, whereas vis à vis data and financial services the Government has shown a willingness to quietly entertain de facto alignment with European standards behind a memorandum of understanding which provides a semblance of mutuality. As Labour exposes this political hypocrisy and economic incoherence, we should emphasise our politics of raising standards at home and abroad to protect conditions of employment, quality of life, community and environmental sustainability. Thus viewing standards as qualities and values puts alignment with EU standards in perspective. Often, the Union understands the issues and has arrived at a position Labour can relate to, for example in including carbon emissions in import tarifs which limits offshoring as well as protecting life on the planet. In the looming contention on data standards Labour’s values have much more in common with the EU position on data ownership than that of the US, and there will not be a Third Way in such essential dimensions of global connectiveness. Nowadays there is also an increased awareness of the importance of standards for global cooperation in health, security and other human rights as well as trade. Thus the European Union, which has made significant investments in establishing and raising global standards in many areas, will be an important partner for future Labour Governments.
    To defend its values and push for its priorities, Labour should actively communicate and collaborate with sister organisations and national governments in Europe as well as the European Union. We should seek coordinated and collaborative action on rights and standards, peace and security and climate change as well as cultural exchange and international frameworks for business and taxation. Labour should also challenge and seek to chqnge the damage done by withdrawing from European Union programs especially where this was not a necessary condition of leaving the Single Market. For example, limiting scientists’ future participation in Horizon and accompanying budget cuts threaten Britain’s position as a significant contributor to European and global and science only partially alleviated by the additional funds allocated this week. Withdrawal from Erasmus aims to cut our Universities and young people off from participation in Europe under the fig leaf of a pretend global replacement scheme devoid of necessary funding and institutional partnerships.
    Exclusion from Galileo and European criminal/terror threat data exchange are security and economic disasters that could and should have been avoided. The losses from Galileo are massive in quantity and quality and the pretence that Britain could mount it’s own replacement quickly fell by the wayside. There’s obviously no way that Britain can invent a substitute for the most sophisticated and extensive international database on crime and terror threats, even though it has resources which could have contributed to its further development and substantial needs to coordinate closely on security with our near neighbors. The extent of this disaster was acknowledged by Government when they stole the Schegen dataset before departure. There will be no replacement until we can rebuild relations. Labour can lead the way to a shared approach to mutual peace, security and defense interests and issues with our European neighbors much more effectively than the Tories – a good thing to demonstrate to the British public.

    Only when Labour succeeds in winning support for the values it believes should underpin Britain’s relations with other countries generally can we hope to develop a widely supported relationship with the European Union which goes beyond toxic Brexit polemics. In putting human rights at the heart of international relations, Labour puts people’s lives first and shows that it values peace, security and mutuality of understanding, obligation and economic benefit. This contrasts sharply with the Tories politics of threats, broken commitments and false promises of ‘wins’. In relation to Europe, Tory tactics have deprived the British people of meaningful choice about the best way to implement the referendum result. Britain’s present situation is neither a necessary consequence of leaving the EU nor even one knowingly chosen by a majority of the British people.

    Honouring agreements made with the European Union, facilitating mutually beneficial mobility, recognising shared values by aligning standards and coordinated and joint action will all help repair damage inflicted on Britain by the Tories handling of withdrawal from the European Union. In pursuing these, Labour should place our rebuilding of relations with Europe in the context of our rights-centred, people-first approach to international and domestic policy. In place of the Tory UK vs EU zero-sum game, Labour offers immediate benefits from the recognition of common values and interests as neighbors.

    .
    EA Labour International Perspective on Rebuilding UK-EU Relations

    Withdrawal from the European Union was a choice which would always involve significant change after half century of membership. However, Tory Governments have insisted on leaving the Single Market and Customs Union as well and Boris Johnson’s ideological approach to sovereignty added features which increase damage to the British economy. The Tory Government continues to undermine Britain’s position in the world by false claims and cultivated hostility. Survey data show Boris has cut Britain off from the world more than people want or business can support. The Tories dominate by denying the actual consequences of their chosen Brexit while continuing to evoke confrontation with the EU. This tyrannical manipulation will only recede when challenged. As Keir Starmer said when giving conditional support to the T&CA, if we hope to make any progress with the challenges the country faces now we must relentlessly expose and attempt to remedy the mess Boris is making of Brexit. Labour must propose immediate action to rebuild our relations with European countries and the European Union.

    We need to make clear that unlike the Tories, Labour is not obsessed with a quixotic rivalry with the European Union. Clearly, a closer relationship with the Union’s huge market next door is essential for Britain’s businesses in all kinds of goods and services. Even more important, if we look out in the world for partners who understand and believe in the values Labour holds dear, such as rights for employees, rights for citizens before the law, consumer protection and environmental standards, we cannot do without European partners. In the fields within its remit, the European Union (with UK participation) has been a leader in setting and advocating standards Labour would regard as positive more than any other major player. WTO standards for example, largely follow EU standards.

    We also need to make clear that although we recognise what we have in common with our neighbors in Europe and the economic, cultural and political benefits of closer association, Labour is not mounting a campaign to rejoin the EU. Why is this?
    After a long and tortuous process, Britain has negotiated withdrawal from the European Union and a framework for trade and cooperation as a Third Country which does not include an option to rejoin. This agreement, which was only one of several possible forms of Brexit, poses many challenges and choices to the country; to meet these, Labour needs to involve people irrespective of how they voted, or it will be unable to lead the country on any important question.
    Because of the hostile polemics pursued by Tory Governments during and following the withdrawal negotiations, Britain’s reputation in Europe and the world has been needlessly damaged. Britain needs to be and become known as a reasonable and reliable neighbor before any possible application to rejoin the Union could arise.
    Brexit has revealed the limited appreciation in Britain of what it means to fully participate in a European Union. Many on both sides of the referendum campaign chiefly considered membership in economic terms. There needs to be much greater understanding and appreciation of EU membership including political union before the choice of future affiliation can be a meaningful one.
    Some who accept the above points nevertheless consider that Labour should now advocating rejoining the European Single Market, because it would alleviate the economic damage Britain suffers as a Third Country. However:
    Single market participation without EU membership involves large-scale rule-taking which many find problematic and will re-invigotate Brexiteer knee-jerk sovereignty politics more than building values shared with the EU.
    Pursuing single market membership dissociates economics from politics, the opposite of what is needed to build recognition of shared values.
    The agreements with the European Union do not offer a short term route to rejoin the Single Market, Labour needs to be in government to even launch negotiations.
    The idea that Labour could get people to sign up for the Single Market for economic convenience after which then they will want membership to become rule-makers thus seems premature as well as simplistic and manipulative.

    Consequently, instead of proposing to rejoin the European Union or its Single Market, Labour should propose immediate practical steps to rebuild relations of mutual benefit with European states and the EU which are consonant with Labour’s people centred domestic and international policy. In the first instance, Labour should focus on challenging and changing aspects of the trade and cooperation agreement which everyone can readily understand are excessive because they go beyond what leaving the Single Market required and also run counter to Labour priorities in domestic and international policy:

    The Government must be pressed to honour the agreements it negotiated and signed concerning EU withdrawal, most especially those which are necessary to protecting peace and security for example on the island of Ireland. Labour should support constructive measures of implementation and relentlessly expose failure which threatens future peace and prosperity.
    Labour should propose that the Government negotiate mutual mobility between Britain and EU countries for business sales and service delivery, specific work contracts and assignments including design, culture and media industries and the performing arts, and study including complete degree programmes. By distinguishing between mutual mobility agreements and migration, Labour can also help disentangle the elements of ‘free movement’ which polarised Brexit debate.
    Labour should expose and reverse the damage inflicted by the Government’s hostility towards alignment with European standards. As with the lack of mobility, whole sectors have been put at risk even while alignment has been sought to benefit some others. Many professional services have been left without a process to establish mutual recognition of qualifications. Food producers have been badly exposed by the unwillingness to sign SPS agreements even though this adds to the difficulties of implementing the NI protocol. Evidently the food industry home market would be also be sacrificed in the event of a US trade deal. Chemical, aeronautical and pharmaceutical industries are left without alignmentv mutual recognition, whereas vis à vis data and financial services the Government has shown a willingness to quietly entertain de facto alignment with European standards behind a memorandum of understanding which provides a semblance of mutuality. As Labour exposes this political hypocrisy and economic incoherence, we should emphasise our politics of raising standards at home and abroad to protect conditions of employment, quality of life, community and environmental sustainability. Thus viewing standards as qualities and values puts alignment with EU standards in perspective. Often, the Union understands the issues and has arrived at a position Labour can relate to, for example in including carbon emissions in import tarifs which limits offshoring as well as protecting life on the planet. In the looming contention on data standards Labour’s values have much more in common with the EU position on data ownership than that of the US, and there will not be a Third Way in such essential dimensions of global connectiveness. Nowadays there is also an increased awareness of the importance of standards for global cooperation in health, security and other human rights as well as trade. Thus the European Union, which has made significant investments in establishing and raising global standards in many areas, will be an important partner for future Labour Governments.
    To defend its values and push for its priorities, Labour should actively communicate and collaborate with sister organisations and national governments in Europe as well as the European Union. We should seek coordinated and collaborative action on rights and standards, peace and security and climate change as well as cultural exchange and international frameworks for business and taxation. Labour should also challenge and seek to chqnge the damage done by withdrawing from European Union programs especially where this was not a necessary condition of leaving the Single Market. For example, limiting scientists’ future participation in Horizon and accompanying budget cuts threaten Britain’s position as a significant contributor to European and global and science only partially alleviated by the additional funds allocated this week. Withdrawal from Erasmus aims to cut our Universities and young people off from participation in Europe under the fig leaf of a pretend global replacement scheme devoid of necessary funding and institutional partnerships.
    Exclusion from Galileo and European criminal/terror threat data exchange are security and economic disasters that could and should have been avoided. The losses from Galileo are massive in quantity and quality and the pretence that Britain could mount it’s own replacement quickly fell by the wayside. There’s obviously no way that Britain can invent a substitute for the most sophisticated and extensive international database on crime and terror threats, even though it has resources which could have contributed to its further development and substantial needs to coordinate closely on security with our near neighbors. The extent of this disaster was acknowledged by Government when they stole the Schegen dataset before departure. There will be no replacement until we can rebuild relations. Labour can lead the way to a shared approach to mutual peace, security and defense interests and issues with our European neighbors much more effectively than the Tories – a good thing to demonstrate to the British public.

    Only when Labour succeeds in winning support for the values it believes should underpin Britain’s relations with other countries generally can we hope to develop a widely supported relationship with the European Union which goes beyond toxic Brexit polemics. In putting human rights at the heart of international relations, Labour puts people’s lives first and shows that it values peace, security and mutuality of understanding, obligation and economic benefit. This contrasts sharply with the Tories politics of threats, broken commitments and false promises of ‘wins’. In relation to Europe, Tory tactics have deprived the British people of meaningful choice about the best way to implement the referendum result. Britain’s present situation is neither a necessary consequence of leaving the EU nor even one knowingly chosen by a majority of the British people.

    Honouring agreements made with the European Union, facilitating mutually beneficial mobility, recognising shared values by aligning standards and coordinated and joint action will all help repair damage inflicted on Britain by the Tories handling of withdrawal from the European Union. In pursuing these, Labour should place our rebuilding of relations with Europe in the context of our rights-centred, people-first approach to international and domestic policy. In place of the Tory UK vs EU zero-sum game, Labour offers immediate benefits from the recognition of common values and interests as neighbors.

    .
    We aren’t
    We argued along convergent lines to Labour’s National Policy Forum in April, and there are signs they are moving this way in substance. Tactically, ‘Make Brexit work’ doesn’t get inside what Brexit had come to mean to whom, agreed. But we think that instead of hoping B will go away, the top priority is to attack the Brainless Brexit being served up and to ask ‘Whose Brexit?’ because there are real contradictons along the promises. Don’t see any possibility of bypassing dissecting what has been done, people won’t move on otherwise.

    .

  2. I have put together some thoughts on the UK’s trajectory. Make of them what you will, and share, or not, if it helpful. Sleaze is starting to make a dent in the Conservative lead, but they are the most despicable government here in a century, and it beggars belief that they still hold the poll position that they do. Which suggests that opposition is fragmented, which suggests that there is not a coherent and compelling alternative vision.
    Labour going into the next GE
    Soundbite: Building a new Britain
    Something I have learned from Bishop Nick Baines, Diocese of Leeds, is that people need to be drawn by hope, not driven by fear. Get Brexit Done, and Make Brexit Work, have negative connotations, and the former is clearly linked to the politics of division which Boris Johnson has embraced.
    We are where we are, outside the EU, a considerable mistake, but it is done now, and there is no prospect of joining again any time soon, perhaps ever. And maybe the UK ought not to anyway. The EU has plenty of flaws, CAP, the refugee crisis, the extreme austerity imposed on Greece are examples. Its key strengths however, including how it has been a force for peace in a part of the world that has seen the bloodiest conflicts in history, were overlooked during the EU referendum. Times of change are also times of opportunity. The path to a thriving UK does not lie down the path Johnson is setting, however. The choice at the GE is stark. If the Conservatives win another term there will be further divergence from EU, and more divisive politics, corruption and incompetence. Additionally, there is the likely prospect of Scottish independence as England and Scotland continue to diverge, as they are now. The Conservatives, currently, are constitutionally incapable of delivering for the many. It is not in their DNA. In contrast, A Labour government, or progressive alliance, will start to nudge the UK back into EU orbit, where it ought naturally to be, first mending fences with neighbours, then co-operating to be part of a geopolitical force for good.
    Political failure is ultimately a failure of imagination. A coherent narrative of what could be is needed to attract voters, hence the suggestion of a positive soundbite (I dislike them, but they seem to work). A simple, positive, and open-ended soundbite could imply all kinds of things.
    • It puts clear water between Labour and the Conservatives.
    • There are resonances with the post-war settlement that Clement Atlee brought about. From that settlement emerged things like the NHS, which was created at a time when this country was broke. If we can do that when we are broke, what can we do when we are rich?
    • It could mean developing, forging new relationships between the devolved nations, greater devolved powers and decision making.
    • It could mean a new economy that works for everyone, and for our environment, and that accelerates the transitions to net zero and nature recovery.
    • It could mean setting an example to other nations, as was done with the Climate Change Act of 2008 on how to create an economy that is regenerative and distributive, designed for people to thrive.
    • Geopolitics matter. It could mean building new economic and strategic links with neighbours to fortify the UK’s soft power, and in turn influence and fortify the EU’s geopolitical power.
    It could mean a lot of things, but you probably get the point I am trying to make.
    I resigned from Labour early in 2021 and joined the SNP. I believe that if the UK continues its current trajectory then it is less risky for Scotland to become independent, and join the EU, than to stay within the political union of the UK. My support of Scottish independence is not unconditional, however. The UK back into the single market may well be enough to avert the independence movement. Even the road back to the single market will be long. Further devolution to Holyrood in the interim will be necessary, I reckon. And they should have it too, in any event.

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