Starmer: Hancock warns of a ‘dirty’ deal with Sturgeon
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The reality of today’s announcement at an event run by the pro-Centre for European Studies is that Starmer and his team know that Brexit is still hurting them in the country. This was witnessed in the recent Wakefield by-election which Labour won but only because the massive pro-Leave/Conservative vote stayed at home. A near historic low turnout of 20 percent was hardly a ringing endorsement for the party to take back its former heartlands in the Red Wall seats.
A shadow cabinet member recently told me bluntly that the tag “Rejoiner Alliance” and the perception Labour cannot win alone with Starmer in charge is hurting them in the polls.
This, in part, explains why despite having a Prime Minister who has been fined for breaking the law, a Government which appears to have run out of ideas and a ruling Conservative Party in open revolt against its leader, Labour cannot get above a six-point lead in the polls, as demonstrated again for the fourth week in a row in the Techne UK/Express tracker poll.
A member of Starmer’s top team said: “We have to kill off the whole Rejoiner Alliance thing by stating clearly we will not rejoin.
“That should close down that line of attack.”
So, a few weeks later, Starmer is going on the record with precisely that message. More than that he wants to reset the relationship but claims to not want the UK to go back under EU rule in the Single Market or Customs Union.
But are we to believe him and is it in his control?
The first question mark arises in the two by-elections last month which went a long way to fuel the idea not only that Labour might take Britain back into the EU but they are laying the groundwork for the “Rejoiner Alliance” with the Lib Dems and possibly SNP which would achieve that.
The reality is that Labour need the Lib Dems, whose top priority is to rejoin the EU in stages, to have a small majority according to Electoral Calculus.
They probably need the pro-EU SNP as well but that support might come with even more strings attached regarding an independence referendum.
In Tiverton and Honiton, Labour in effect stood aside to let the Lib Dems have a successful run about beating the Tories.
The Lib Dems did the same in Wakefield in Yorkshire, both were strongly pro-Leave seats but a Rejoiner Alliance and anger over Boris Johnson’s Government allowed the two pro-EU parties to win.
A Cabinet minister told me last week that Rejoiner Alliance is a “strong card” for the Conservatives.
The minister said: “It helps us focus the Leave vote again and make these [by-election] losses more of a midterm blues issue.
“We need to start using Rejoiner Alliance more.”
But then we also come back to what the Labour Party actually wants as opposed to what its leader says.
Influential figures like Sadiq Khan, Lord Adonis and others are hellbent on the UK rejoining the EU via the Single Market and Customs Union.
Starmer’s speech was obviously aimed at trying to shut them up but, as we have seen with the rail strikes, that tactic is unlikely to work.
Then we look at Starmer’s whole involvement in the attempts to have a second referendum and reverse Brexit.
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As Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Brexit Secretary Starmer worked night and day with Remainers trying to prevent Brexit from happening or at least water it down so much that it would have been virtually Brexit in name only.
The Labour benches have been purged of Brexiteers in the Commons, especially since former Europe Minister Kate Hoey quit as an MP.
There is perhaps only the veteran Graham Stringer so if Labour was in Government and the cost of having a majority was to take Britain back into the EU it would not be a difficult decision to make for them.
Finally, we have to look at Starmer’s future. Within days he may have to resign over breaking lockdown rules in the infamous beergate event in Durham in April 2021.
If this happens the likelihood is that Starmer will be replaced by an even stronger Europhile.
Starmer’s comments may be genuine today but the truth is that given all the rest of the evidence it is hard to believe that even if he remains as leader he would be willing to prevent the Left’s push to take Britain back under the rule of a foreign power in Brussels.
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