The sooner Labour realises that no version of Brexit can bring the country together, the better

The Brexit Party’s message in the EU elections was ‘We demand Brexit NOW’, the Liberal Democrats had ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ and the Labour Party’s was, well, a little more hard to follow

Mark Steel
Thursday 30 May 2019 18:14
Jeremy Corbyn calls for general election and referendum following European election results

At last, this is what the country demanded. We voted to get our democracy back, so now our prime minister will be chosen by 100,000 rural 97-year-olds. And these people generally live in areas that represent the whole nation, such as Outer Fridlington on the Marsh, where they’re familiar with issues such as immigration, because last year someone moved there from Upper Fridlington on the Marsh, which is the other side of the jousting range.

Among the hundreds of candidates, there are several sub-sections, such as the contest to be the most anti-Europe, in which Boris Johnson will promise to restart the Seven Years War against Prussia, so Andrea Leadsom will reply she’ll make it compulsory to sell cocaine in pounds and ounces rather than grammes, and make it a criminal offence to have déjà vu.

Then there’s the competition to be the liberal one, so Rory Stewart showed he can use the internet and said he smoked opium, but Michael Gove will retaliate by revealing on Instagram that while he was education secretary, in the evenings he was starring in a live gay porn show in Amsterdam. “Having to say my lines clearly and concisely while placed in challenging physical situations, gave me a unique insight into the importance of emphasising correct English grammar,” he’ll tell us.

And there’s the intriguing tussle to appear the most stupid. Dominic Raab had a head start, having announced as Brexit secretary he wasn’t aware we imported stuff across the English Channel. He must have had a wonderful time, yelling: “Blimey, it turns out we’re an island, isn’t it marvellous what you pick up in this job, every day’s like an episode of QI.”

Brexit Party supporter shouts 'lynch him' about Jeremy Corbyn

But he’s also the one who resigned in protest at the deal which he negotiated himself, so there’s no point giving the job to him, as he’ll appear every night on the podium outside Downing Street, to announce: “Today I’ve decided to do lots of things that are so s***, no reasonable person could possibly do them so I have no choice but to tell myself to piss off and resign.”

He’s challenged by Matt Hancock, who answered four different questions in one interview by saying “I will, er, bring, er bring, um bring the country together.” It’s impossible to think of any job you’d get if your application was as bad as the ones these people have made. If you were interviewing candidates for the job of watching Countdown while drinking a tin of ginger beer, you’d say: “We can’t give it to these idiots, they’ll misunderstand and watch illegal dog-fighting while drinking a bottle of Toilet Duck.”

At least they all agree it’s essential to “bring the country back together again”, and their determination to do this is illustrated by the way three of them signed a pledge that they wouldn’t engage in personal insults, and the rest went berserk because they weren’t invited to sign the pledge.

It proves we’re in safe hands, when contenders for our next prime minister are so measured and mature, they scream at each other “How DARE you sign a pledge without me when I’m MILES better than YOU at promising to not engage in personal insults you cheating underhand dingbat a***wipe.”

So in last week’s elections they slumped to nine per cent, and Labour managed to resoundingly beat them by scraping 14 per cent.

One lesson from this is the importance of going into an election with a clear message, easily understood by your audience. For example, the Brexit Party had “We demand Brexit NOW”, the Liberal Democrats had “Bollocks to Brexit”, and Labour went with the catchy “We support a sort of customs thingy but not the actual one and not freedom of movement but a sort of freedom to wiggle with a possible second whatnot but not if the ball pitches outside off stump while the batsman isn’t ready.”

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This must be why, since the election result, day by day, Labour slowly changes its stance, and at the moment it seems to be: “We do support a public vote, preferably a general election but a confirmatory poll if there’s no deal, or possibly another referendum, but not necessarily on the EU as much as which is more satisfying on a hot day, a melon or a tangerine.”

Maybe part of the reticence about embracing the movement to reverse Brexit is a distrust of the EU as an institution. This is fair enough, as they’ve done plenty that’s rotten, but the debate about the EU might be different now from the one a few years ago. Because Brexit is a project driven by a clique who dream of scrapping any regulations on greed, of making Britain a tax haven, and blaming everything that has gone wrong on Europe and immigration.

And the people who oppose all that are people who, you might imagine, a radical Labour Party would wish to inspire and lead.

Another difficulty could be the one illustrated in a typical article, in the New Statesman this week, suggesting Labour’s problem was “how to reconcile its urban middle class members with its traditional working class Leave base”.

This makes sense, as long as you believe that what makes someone working class is being a bloke in Sunderland, covered in coal, who has their bath by sitting in a bucket in the rain while shouting “Leave means Leave”, under a banner for the National Union of Scaffold Poles, Allied Huge Metal Objects and Associated Beef Dripping Manufacturers, whereas what makes you middle class is having been to France.

So my advice to Labour is act decisively, firstly by endorsing another referendum while acknowledging it probably won’t solve anything as we’re stuffed whatever we do, then sending a van to sit outside Downing Street with “Theresa May go home” written in huge letters on the side.

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