The political Right has always had a rather narrow interpretation of ‘pro-business’. It has interpreted it as deregulation and the euphemism of ‘flexible Labour markets.’
Brexit has changed all of that.
The Labour Party has now come out in favour of remaining in a customs union with the EU. Jeremy Corbyn has also made clear that protecting Britain’s trade with the EU (a certainty) has to take precedence over potential future deals with China or the USA (highly uncertain). He also talks of a ‘jobs first’ Brexit and about the folly of arbitrary immigration targets that will starve business of the labour and skills that it needs.
In addition, some recent detailed work (yet to be published) has shown that most UK businesses have no appetite for the business disruption that would result from a massive orgy of post-Brexit deregulation.
All this has turned politics on its head – something we are seeing somewhat more of these days. Labour’s position is now a clearly articulated set of what can be considered pro-business policies. The Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to be like a dazed dog being wagged by the extreme Brexiteer tail. No amount of damage to business, to jobs, to the British economy, and to people’s livelihoods seems to be enough to make a dent in the hardest of hard Brexit ideology.
Ah! But it’s not just about the economy, the Brexiteers will doubtless argue. We are a sovereign nation, the cradle of representative democracy and we are fighting for a much higher purpose – respect for the sovereign decisions of our Parliament. This from the very same people, it seems, that have started taking legal advice as to whether a vote in Parliament requiring that the UK remain in a customs union can be ignored by the government.
So let us be clear. The hard Brexit ideology is driven by one thing and one thing alone – a deep, long-standing and visceral dislike of the European Union. All else is fluff.
There is nothing inherently wrong with that. People are entitled to feel what they feel. Some of us can empathise with aspects of the EU that are frustrating, disagreeable, and sometimes infuriating. But it would command more respect if people came out and said that rather than spouting nonsense and pretending to seize the high ground of democratic principle.
I never thought I would say this. But, in the current looking glass world, Corbyn’s Labour is starting to seem a good deal saner than the government
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