Jeremy Corbyn was in Brussels today. I’m not sure exactly who this guy thinks he is, but no matter how useless the Prime Minister might have been throughout this negotiation process, it is absolutely not the role of the leader of the opposition to be meeting EU leaders to discuss the Withdrawal Agreement.
Corbyn met with Brexit negotiators, including the EU’s very own buck-toothed mini Hitler, Guy Verhofstadt. The discussions focused on the alternative deal that Jeremy Corbyn proposed to the Prime Minister some weeks ago, which recommends that the United Kingdom remains in the Customs Union and Single Market.
Speaking to the press following the meetings, Corbyn said:
“We put forward a view, as you know, that No Deal must be taken off the table and we believe the Labour alternative on a Customs Union, market access and protection of rights is a credible one. It certainly has great support amongst MPs on my side of the house, and some from the other side as well. We think there could be a majority for it, we’ll continue to push it, but Theresa May must end her red lines and start being serious about it. Otherwise, the danger of the No Deal exit on the 29th March becomes very real – and that would be very very damaging to jobs on both sides of the Channel. It would be damaging to supply chains, again on both sides of the Channel. These things have to be addressed.”
Corbyn also insisted that the option of holding a second referendum remains “very much part of the agenda put forward by the Labour Party” if Theresa May fails to support a close economic partnership with the EU. In short, Corbyn wants his Customs Union deal, or he wants to go back to the public in the hope that we all change our minds.
This is all the evidence you need that the Labour Party is interested only in treating Brexit like a game. They’re navigating around this invented crisis as if it were a board game, making strategic moves to undermine the Prime Minister and ultimately stop the Brexit process in its tracks. Quite astounding, for a man who has campaigned against the EU his entire life.
Interestingly, Jean-Claude Juncker also said today that he is “not very optimistic’ that No Deal Brexit can be avoided, following a meeting with Theresa May. He said that he clearly saw no majority in favour of the deal in Parliament.
Speaking to a session of the European Economic and Social Committee, Juncker said:
“If no deal were to happen, and I cannot exclude this, this would have terrible economic and social consequences in Britain and on the continent, so my efforts are oriented in a way that the worst can be avoided. But I am not very optimistic when it comes to this issue…Because in the British parliament every time they are voting, there is a majority against something, there is no majority in favour of something.”
I suppose he’s not wrong, though he’s hardly been cooperative throughout. The fact that he and his colleagues categorically refuse to reopen negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, and seem reluctant to offer any assurance that the backstop will not be permanent and impossible to leave unilaterally, is a huge red flag. If they have no intention of keeping the UK stuck inside the backstop, then why are they so desperate to maintain their ability to do exactly that, within the Withdrawal Agreement text?
Or could it be that they’re doing the same as the Prime Minister – running down the clock in the hope that the other side will cave at the last minute.
Despite all this, however, a Brussels reporter has claimed that the latest Brexit meeting with Barnier will trigger EU concessions and that there’s “something in the air”. Quite a stark difference to the doom and gloom Juncker portrayed today.
Ian Wishart, European reporter for Bloomberg, recounted to BBC Politics Live that after Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer met with Michel Barnier, the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay stepped in for their own meeting. He said that the meeting with Cox and Barclay could come with a proposal and could result in concessions over the backstop.
What those concessions will be are yet to be seen, but they will unquestionably be some form of legal assurances outside of the Withdrawal Agreement that could be enough for the Attorney General to confirm that the backstop will not be something the UK will be stuck in for an indefinite period of time.
When Corbyn was asked by journalists whether he’d support the Prime Minister’s deal if Cox confirmed the backstop is no longer indefinite, he simply refused to answer – once again confirming this is all a game to the Labour Party.