When it comes to Brexit, the old guard of politics need to realise that their time is up – and that includes Corbyn

David Davis and Jeremy Corbyn are both fighting yesterday’s battles and are two sides of the same coin

Corbyn told colleagues that we could not be part of the single market without being EU members – as though Norway doesn’t exist
Corbyn told colleagues that we could not be part of the single market without being EU members – as though Norway doesn’t exist

As someone working in Brussels, the leaked letter from David Davis is deeply embarrassing. In it he expresses outrage that the EU27 have not only taken seriously the statement that the UK will leave the single market and the customs union, but have dared to respond by seeking to insulate themselves from the worst impacts of this on their economies.

Davis wails about the damage of the EU27 preparing for a No Deal Brexit on British business and jobs while the Tories spend £3bn of taxpayers money preparing for just such a scenario. There was even talk of May creating a “No Deal Brexit” Ministerial post. But of course, we were supposed to be having our cake and eating it. How dare the EU prepare for the worst and put the interests of 27 nations – who happen to be members of the club – above those of the UK – which has opted to leave?

The publication of this letter confirms – if any more evidence were needed – that David Davis is the blustering and over-confident Brexit Bulldog, wholly out of touch and out of his depth. The “Take Back Control” delusion has clearly gone to his head and he has failed to consider that the EU will have a response to the UK leaving the Union. And when they do respond, he cries that it’s “not fair” and suggests legal action, even though he knows this would be costly, time-consuming, politically risky and almost certainly unsuccessful.

The letter also makes clear that Davis thought the transition period was a generous compromise to help the UK leave the Union with minimum damage, whereas it was always going to work to the benefit of the EU27. The whole idea of the two-year transition is to allow EU companies and countries to insulate themselves against the fallout from Brexit.

In normal times we would look to the Opposition to save us from such bungling ineptitude. But these are not normal times and challenging Saint Jeremy gains one more opprobrium than support. But it was Corbyn who refused to cooperate with other parties in talks today aimed at keeping us in the single market. It was Corbyn who told colleagues that we could not be part of the single market without being EU members – as though Norway doesn’t exist – and that we can negotiate to gain the benefits of the single market without being members. He is wrong on both counts.

Like Davis, Corbyn is responding to a world that no longer exists, a world where the EU was a bosses’ Europe and socialism in one country a coherent political philosophy. In this sense, Davis and Corbyn are both fighting yesterday’s battles and are two sides of the same coin.

Aficionados of the TV drama The Crown will recognise what is going on here as the buttoned-up morality and nostalgia for empire of the 1950s, resisting the creativity and freedom of the 1960s. The ruling class are stuck in habitual patterns, responding to the world of yesteryear. The British response to Brexit on both sides of the House gives the impression of government by an old guard, some more or less well meaning, but all failing to comprehend the reality of contemporary geopolitics and the global aspirations of young people.

EU preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit are “damaging” UK interests, according to David Davis

Although the young had their vision of global solidarity and their dreams of freedom within our continent dashed by the vote in June 2016, their ability to grasp the world as one system is inspiring. They recognise that climate change is a cause that binds is from Vanuatu to Vienna. They understand that the frightening power of global crime cries out for a global alliance for justice and equality.

When I have conversations with young people I am struck by their hope and confidence in the modern world. All they are waiting for are the opportunities to develop solutions and the power to put these into practice.

These feel like days of political despair, with the forces of reaction and division in the ascendancy. But beneath this crust I can feel the surging of hope of the millennials, the first truly global generation. We must embrace and support their vision of hope. As for the old guard, dragging us back to a bygone era, they should get out of the road if they can’t lend a hand.

Molly Scott Cato MEP is Green Party speaker on Brexit

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in