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Jeremy Corbyn’s Stalinist stance on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 16:26 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:32 17 May 2018

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the annual conference of the Communication Workers Union (CWU)
Photo: PA / Andrew Matthews

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the annual conference of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Photo: PA / Andrew Matthews

PA Wire/PA Images

Labour Remainers this week pushed their leader to consider backing a plan to stay in the single market.

They were buoyed by the return of David Miliband to British politics. He shared a stage with former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and pro-EU Tory Nicky Morgan to back a soft Brexit.

Many Labour MPs – and voters – believe things would have been very different if he had won the race against his brother Ed in 2010 to become the next leader.

One Labour source referred to him as the “greatest leader we never had” which is probably over-playing it somewhat but does illustrate the good will towards him for some quarters of the party.

So, with a spring in their step, many Labour MPs headed to the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party hopeful the boss could be persuaded that the so-called Norway model could become party policy.

And they had reasons to be hopeful – Mr Corbyn seems to have woken up when it comes to Brexit. He has used all his questions to the prime minister in the last two weeks on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

And after the repeated defeats in the Lords the government is facing a tough time when the EU (Withdrawal) Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Many on the Labour benches – and a lot on the other side of the House as well – believe the best option for Britain is to remain in the European Economic Area.

This would mean retaining very close ties with the EU and even continuing to accept the bloc’s rules on the free movement of people. But, the Labour Remainers argue, it would lessen the impact of Brexit for businesses and protect jobs.

If Mr Corbyn wants to cause maximum damage to the Conservatives you would expect him to vote against the government on Brexit – really turn the screw on Theresa May. Defeat in the Commons on the Brexit Bill could well spark a general election, something Mr Corbyn is supposedly desperate for.

But no. Mr Corbyn ruled it out. It was a serious head-in-hands moment for those Remainers.

Labour’s Brexiteers were thrilled. John Mann said as he left the meeting: “EEA is dead after that.”

And Mrs May will be sleeping a little more easily.

So what exactly is Mr Corbyn’s plan? He may appear to have missed an open goal but did he sky the ball on purpose?

It is still a shock to many Labour supporters – especially the young – that Mr Corbyn is not pro-EU. He has long-held eurosceptic views. He did not campaign with anything like the skill and vigour he is capable of for Remain. And, as the prime minister skilfully reminded him at PMQs he even called for Article 50 to be triggered immediately after the result.

There were no tears shed in the Corbyn household on June 24, 2016.

Labour parties of the recent past would have continued to oppose leaving the EU even after the referendum result. But there are two main reasons cited for this Labour’s rather soft opposition on Brexit.

The first is that lots of Labour areas voted to Leave. That is true and undoubtedly problematic.

The second is that Mr Corbyn’s very ambitious manifesto pledges from last year’s election could not be achieved inside the EU. That one is rather more of a head scratcher.

What is more likely to be behind Mr Corbyn’s anti-federalist views is the notion of one-nation socialism. But it is hardly a concept that is likely to enthrall the casual political observer – and it might even scare the middle-ground voters away.

The premise was put forward by Joseph Stalin (scared yet?) in the aftermath of the Russian revolution. Put simply it was a shift away from the previously-held belief of classical Marxism that socialism should be established globally.

Instead Russia looked inward in a bid to strengthen after failed communist takeovers in Germany and Hungary.

Mr Corbyn believes Britain needs to look inwards to improve. For his brand of socialism to succeed there needs to be a clean slate.

Much to the despair of his EU-backing MPs (who are in the majority within Labour) Mr Corbyn’s interest in Brexit is only really focussed on embarrassing the government.

And somehow this appears to have passed many of his supporters by.

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