Pity the Labour Party. As it doubled down on Brexit lunacy, actual news robbed it of a vote-winning triumph

Just as Starmer and Watson were simultaneously setting out two different policies on Brexit, three Scottish lawyers got in the way

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Wednesday 11 September 2019 13:41
Keir Starmer told about Scottish high court ruling suspension of parliament 'unlawful' live on stage at TUC congress

All polling ever done on the subject indicates that the vast majority of the public have no idea what the Labour Party’s position on Brexit is, and frankly it’s time the people started to take some responsibility for themselves.

It’s easy, this stuff. All you need is to be free at 10am on a Wednesday morning, and settle yourself down in front of a TV and a laptop or a phone, so you can simultaneously watch two speeches from two of Labour’s most senior politicians, setting out entirely different policies, then choose which one you want to believe.

Well, it would have been easy, if both of them hadn’t been simultaneously interrupted by other, actual news.

For almost at the very moment Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer took to the stage in Brighton and said that Labour wants a general election on which it will commit to a second referendum in which Labour MPs can choose whichever side they like, and at the very moment deputy leader Tom Watson got on stage in London to say that Labour should have a referendum before an election and it should campaign “unequivocally” to Remain, suddenly neither your TV nor your phone nor your laptop were any use to you.

And that’s because, while Labour argued in public about what it would hypothetically do about Brexit in various hypothetical situations, there was some actual news to worry about.

There, standing outside a courthouse in Edinburgh were the SNP’s Joanna Cherry and Tommy Sheppard, who had just taken the government to court, and the court had declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament had been “unlawful”.

Wallop! What happens now? No one knows. One of the lawyers who brought the case reckons that parliament is no longer prorogued, the government reckons it will appeal the decision in the supreme court next week.

What, frankly, are the Scottish Nationalists playing at? This is not how you take on a minority government that is lying at will and, quite possibly, breaking the law. If you want to get Boris Johnson on the back foot, the way to do it was made clear on Monday night, when Labour MPs wrote “SILENCED” on bits of paper and waved them about in the House of Commons.

Why take the government to court when you can fire out “Occupy parliament” memes on your social media channels?

In the meantime, No 10 has rushed out a statement saying it is “disappointed” in the ruling.

“The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this,” it said.

Which is unfortunate, because two days ago it had given up on this completely, making clear in written statements that prorogation is “essential if the UK is to leave the European Union by October 31st.”

And now it has had to go back to it.

Which is all very well, but really, it’s the public that suffers. There they all were, desperate to find out what Labour’s Brexit policy really is, via two simultaneous and entirely contradictory speeches on the matter, and then this happens.

Indeed, there was Starmer, live on stage, doing his best to tell the public his version of what Labour’s Brexit policy is.

There he was, banging his palm limply on the lectern and stating: “Prime minister, you can hide from parliament for a few weeks, but when we return we will be ready!”

And then, when he was told, on stage, that the prorogation had just been declared unlawful, and he might well be returning a lot sooner than that, and all he could say was, “Wow, better get back to London.”

But, in the meantime, all the public wants to do is understand Labour’s Brexit policy and prove those pesky pollsters wrong. They just can’t catch a break, can they?

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