Mr Corbyn’s dilemma

Over the next two weeks Mr Corbyn can determine the fate of Mrs May’s EU Agreement. If he placed a three line whip on Labour MPs to vote for the legislation necessary to bind the UK into this new Treaty, he would give Mrs May enough votes to secure the matter. There might well be more Conservative rebels against such legislation, but not enough to prevent a grand coalition of Mr Corbyn and his loyalists with Mrs May and her government appointees putting through the necessary law. So far Mr Corbyn has been unwilling to do this, even though Labour has not made much of a case against the terms of the so called Withdrawal Agreement. We saw the kind of votes we could expect in such circumstances on the vote about the latest delay to our exit. Delay won by 400 to 120, with only 133 Conservatives voting for the delay despite a three line whip to do so.

Instead Mr Corbyn has concentrated on criticising the attached Political declaration. Understandably he has argued that signing the Withdrawal terms does not place the UK in a good position to secure the kind of eventual exit from the EU that he and others would like. He has placed considerable emphasis on his wish to see the UK stay in a customs union with the EU, though he has also hinted that he would still like some independent trade policy. It is difficult to see how these two usually incompatible positions could be negotiated with the EU. He has also made it official Labour policy in certain circumstances to have a second referendum to endorse any Agreement, though he seems more flexible about this than the Blairite wing of his followers.

Mr Corbyn now has to recognise that Mrs May could end up conceding the customs union. If she has her way and puts indicative votes to the Commons again, the customs union proposal without a Conservative whip on to oppose might get through. It has been voted down several times before because it was Conservative policy in the last election to oppose it, and because 3 line whips were placed against it. It would only take a handful of Conservative rebels against the Manifesto to tip over the vote, assuming all opposition parties coalesced around the proposal. Mrs May would probably then change her own mind and recommend the customs union.

This could place Mr Corbyn in a more difficult position. Why would he wish to take responsibility for the Withdrawal Treaty and for rescuing Mrs May’s government? Why would he hand her a big win, finally vindicating her tenacious support for a Treaty which is opposed by a big majority of the public? More Labour than Conservatives might end up voting for the legislation it needed. He still has a couple more options. He can argue that he dislikes other features of the proposal as well as the absence of the customs union to avoid commitment. He could help her win the first vote but then find detail in the legislation he could not support, creating subsequent chaos amidst allegations of bad faith.

The way out appeared to be to rewrite the Political declaration, as the EU used to say there was some flexibility about that document. That seems to be closed off by the tough terms of the recent extension, where they categorically rule out any further discussions of the future partnership until the Withdrawal Treaty is adopted in UK law.

Mr Corbyn’s safest course is to find another reason why he cannot bring himself to back this Treaty, He has been talking about worries over who the next leader of the Conservatives might be, what kind of future partnership the Conservatives would want to negotiate, what trade deals they might do elsewhere and other related matters. He could even start to expose some of the undesirable features of the Agreement. Were he to give the government support not just for the first vote but to get through a very contentious and important piece of constitutional legislation to enforce the new Treaty he might unleash uncontrollable forces amongst his own voters and members.The curse of the Agreement might gravely damage his party. This is a draft Treaty which unites many Leave and Remain voters in opposition to it. Labour MPs in Leave voting seats would be particularly uncomfortable, whilst the left would make unusual supporters of Mrs May.

The worst outcone for Labour would be securing a second referendum. The party would then become a pro Remain party and lose most of its Leave voters. It would be scorned by at least half the electorate as anti democratic for going back on its word to accept the result of the original referendum. It would need to defend its new found enthusiasm for all things EU including its austerity economics.


  1. javelin
    April 18, 2019

    On Sunday I reported 100% of responses to Dan Hannan’s article in The Telegraph online said they would not vote Conservative. Today 100% of comments in response to another Dan Hannan article in Conservative Home online say they are not going to vote Conservative. The comments are worth a read.

    Democracy 101: If you ignore the voters then the voters will ignore you.

    1. oldtimer
      April 18, 2019

      It seems the Westminster has never had a thicker, unresponsive skin.

      As for the talks their purpose is to string along May and her remaining supporters (party is longer the appropriate word) and the dump the blame on her and the Conservative party for failing to deliver Brexit. Job done. Then it is bring on the next election.

      1. Hope
        April 19, 2019

        Major did not care he caused thousands f businesses and people thousands of people to lose their homes for his fanatic EU dream. He did not care about associations, supporters and voters when it put the Tory party in opposition for decades. Ken Clarke the same.

        Your party, supporters andk activists do not learn from experience of dealing with EU fanatics. May is not listening to you and does not care if Corbyn is in government as long, as the UK remains in the EU he only has boundaries to operate in. It matters not who is in government per your puppet parliament blogs.

        This is about what is he best way to con the public to get in office and remain in the EU.

      2. Hope
        April 19, 2019

        Name one competent minister who has promoted and achieved in a key policy area- none.
        Highest taxation in forty years.
        Unemployment down because of a lib dem policy to cut income tax for the low paid.
        Community tax up five percent two years running without any changes to poor services delivered. May demanding we sell our homes to pay for care while she gives away nearly £20 billion in overseas aid each year directly and indirectly through her beloved EU!
        Crime soaring because of May’s policies to cut police numbers and effectively prevent stop and search being carried out.
        Criminal justice a complete liberal left wing farce. Gauke wanting to let out the most prolific rapists in history and stopped by Labour!
        Health service a complete mess through Tory mass immigration policy.
        Immigation policy like Brexit and tax cuts a complete lie to deceive the public. Sugar tax, junk food ban, but drug use okay. Hope
        Snooper charter to spy on your computer, social media suppression, press freedom cut back, thought crimes, now Tories prevent pornography!
        Home ownership? The list is endless.

    2. Andy
      April 18, 2019

      You are in for a rude awakening when you get to DEMOCRACY 102.

      Mr Farage will probably do rather well in the European elections. His result will be flattered by the much more democratic electoral system the EU uses. 30% of the vote will equate to approximately 30% of the seats.

      Should he replicate this share at the next general election here Farage is still in likely to end up with a handful of MPs at best. He may get lucky and get into double figures – possibly well into it. He may get none.

      The irony being that that the EU you all deride as being ‘undemocratic’ is the only place you actually have a voice that represents you. When the European Parliament goes you become nobodies who are an electoral irrelevance again.

      Incidentally I have been calling for the UK electoral system to change for all my adult life. I don’t like your voices but I think they should be heard. Mr Redwood’s party – which benefits from the status quo – is the one which refuses.

      1. agricola
        April 18, 2019

        Have you ever asked yourself why your glass is always half empty. I would advise that you begin thinking positively. Whatever you put into life might lead to you getting 85%back. The negative vibes you constantly express can only be a drag on your morale leading to even more negative thinking. Try adopting a can do philosophy, who dares wins. It could lift your life onto a different plain.

      2. Edward2
        April 18, 2019

        You are mistaken Andy.
        The EU is constructed like the old USSR.
        The power resides in the appointed Commission and Council and Presidents.
        Untouched by any vote by any citizen
        The powers of MEPs is illusory.

      3. DaveM
        April 18, 2019

        Bloody hell. I actually agree with you for once. Apart from the bit about the EU being democratic – take away the Commission and the Parliament and remove the president of the Council and we might be getting somewhere.

      4. NickC
        April 18, 2019

        Andy, When the EU removes your rights to holidays and conscripts your children to serve in its army or militia, just how are you going to exercise your “democratic” control over your EU government?

    3. Hope
      April 18, 2019

      JR, if I were Corbyn I would oppose May and vote against anything she proposed. He is perfectly entitled to watch May destroy the Tories knowing he could steer Brexit any way he wished because Tories are on death watch. Two elections coming, he can easily fend off criticism by how awful the government is and the awful options it presents. I would still go for a general election if I were him. May wound down the clock from October, first claiming she would get legal changes and got nothing. May then claimed she would replace the backstop but within a day said she would bring changes and again got nothing. All planned to bounce through her servitude plan through fear. It worked at Chequers! Now she is in th long game. Already breaking her word extending the date four times in two weeks!

      Your MPs were already angry months ago when Barwell said he would not seek Labour votes and then did exactly that! Tory MPs wrote articles on it. May said the same and is now in coalition with Labour! There is no bounds to her treachery, she is a traitor to your manifesto, referndum, party, voters and country.

      Big business needs to decide do they want WTO or Corbyn. He is getting in make no mistake unless you get rid of her ASAP and leave WTO.

      Read conhome today of a 30 year activist taking a break and not voting Tory. Read another piece where a councillor is having doors slammed in her face. All associations need to withdraw support immediately- May has abandoned the party.

      At the last election May did not listen to the Parliamentary party, associations, supporters and activists. She ploughed on with her dementia tax and dreadful manifesto with her small group of advisors. She won the election by a hairs width against Corbyn! She is in coalition with the man that nearly beat her. Now your party is toast with her in place.

    4. Lifelogic
      April 19, 2019

      May and Hammond have not just ignored the voters they are actively kicking them in the groin at every turn.

  2. Mark B
    April 18, 2019

    Good morning

    If was our kind host I would be more worried about my own party than Mr.Corbyn’s.

    The only reason Mrs.May is having these ‘talks’ is to prevent Labour tabling a motion of no confidence. It is as crude as that.

    The ERG need to put the pressure on and tell Labour that if they table another vote of no confidence in the government they might abstain. But only if they break off negotiations first. That will nix Mrs. May’s plan. But Labour maybe waiting until after the local and Europarl elections. This would strengthen their had and show that they are electable. Trouble is, what to put in their manifesto 😉

    1. eeyore
      April 18, 2019

      These days Mrs May is Labour’s best friend, while Mr Corbyn remains the Conservatives’ best friend. The first party to elect a half-decent leader will clean up.

      Oddly, the brand-new Brexit Party has such a person. Perhaps the imperative for Labour and Conservatives alike is to make sure Mr Farage doesn’t clean up. As for the national interest, who cares about that?

    2. Nigl
      April 18, 2019

      Indeed. This visionless, leaderless, zombie, out of ideas Party/government should be more of a concern.

      I have already switched my vote in the local election and I know others have also.

      1. MickN
        April 18, 2019

        I have no one to vote for as only conservatives and lib dems are standing.
        I shall stay at home for the first time in 45 years. Can’t wait for the EU ones though.

        1. Fedupsoutherner
          April 18, 2019

          I will trash my papers if I have nobody to vote for. I will pay reference to Brexit.

      2. Stephen Priest
        April 18, 2019

        “out of ideas” – Whenever a left wing pressure group comes along with an idea Mrs May immediately turns it into Conservative Party policy.

        Any idea that kicks natural or potential Conservative voters (self employed, leave voters, investment landlords) always seems to become party policy, because she thinks these people would never vote for Corbyn anyway.

    3. Gary C
      April 18, 2019

      “If was our kind host I would be more worried about my own party than Mr.Corbyn’s.”

      We have been watching the death of the Conservative party for some time now.

      The warning signs were there and yet they persisted in allowing the treacherous Theresa May and her remainer friends ruin the very thing the electorate value, their voice.

      The people have been shown they count for nothing, democracy is dead the people are not worth listening to.

      Theresa May has killed the Conservative Party and is still trying to bury our once great country, what makes it worse she is being allowed to continue.

      When she is gone she will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

      1. Merchantman
        April 18, 2019

        But its not just about Brexit is it? The Conservatives have become a hard left social agenda party. They are ‘The Conservative Not’ party.

      2. Adam
        April 18, 2019

        Jeremy Corbyn’s elder brother, Piers, seems rather more sensible than he, especially when referring to climate change predictions.

      3. Doug Powell
        April 18, 2019

        I agree with you sentiments, however, there has been intent in her actions, so I think we can be more accurate and say that she has MURDERED Democracy and the Tory Party!

        Also, once she realises she can get away with ignoring our voice, then it follows that the next step will to take away our vote! After all, if SHE is going to ignore the little people what is the point in letting them vote!

        ‘… she will be remembered for all the wrong reasons’ – No! She won’t be remembered by the democrats and patriots among us – she will be hated! But she will be loved by the EU!

        And all the while, where are our ‘Champions’ in Parliament? Meekly lining up like lambs for the slaughter! And believe me, it will be Slaughter! We need some decisive action from our hitherto hapless champions!

    4. Julie Dyson
      April 18, 2019

      To be fair, Mark, I don’t doubt for one moment that our kind host is more worried about his own party then Corbyn’s equally-split one. In sharing his thoughts in the Diary, however, he is helping bring clarity to the thoughts of many readers. I for one certainly don’t always manage to see things from every angle quite as clearly without coming here for my daily fix of insightful logic, and rarely do I reach a different conclusion.

      This, however, is perhaps one of those times. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Corbyn and May soon join forces in an attempt to minimise the rapidly-growing impact and appeal of The Brexit Party and its very clear aim of bringing down — or doing its damnedest to damage — the two main establishment parties. They will both want to avoid like the plague the EU elections on the 23rd May, and that means agreeing to stitch up the country good and proper, once and for all.

    5. Al
      April 18, 2019

      “The only reason Mrs.May is having these ‘talks’ is to prevent Labour tabling a motion of no confidence. It is as crude as that.” – Mark B

      I would be curious to find out if anyone in the Labour party has considered the huge popularity boost that would go to anyone who removed Prime Minister May. With the DUP not supporting her and the advent of the TIGs, a vote of no confidence is far more likely to go through, and would put the Conservative party into further disarray right before two sets of elections.

      Mr. Corbyn is either biding time or being spectacularly nice.

      1. stred
        April 18, 2019

        Both parties are worried about a general election with the Brexit Party taking a large chunk of Conservative votes and UKIP taking a large chunk of Labour away from London. They will probably prefer to wait until Brexit dies down and the country accepts the capitilation agreement or they think that they can get away with a rigged second referendum with a choice of Remain or Remain and 16 year- olds voting as their NUT teachers tell them.

      2. Steve
        April 18, 2019


        “Mr. Corbyn is either biding time or being spectacularly nice.”

        More likely they’re both terrified of Farage, or perhaps the penny has finally dropped and they’re working out plans to impose marshall law when the lid blows off.

        I seriously doubt Jeremy is being nice to Theresa. I’d need to see a MkII Cortina outside his house with ‘Jerry – Treesa’ on the windscreen before I believe that.

    6. Bob
      April 18, 2019

      “what to put in their manifesto”

      Raise personal tax allowance to £13k
      and abolish the following:
      • Inheritance Tax
      • HS2
      • Stamp Duty
      • Overseas Aid
      • TV Licence
      • EU membership
      • Tuition Fees for STEM subjects

      1. Lifelogic
        April 18, 2019

        and soft student “loans” for the countless worthless degrees – at least 50% of them.

        You will need to put some quality controls on what STEM subjects qualify. Not climate science I would suggest for a start.

        About 50% of people going to university have 3 Ds at A level or lower! Should anyone with less than about ABB even be going to university before re-sitting A levels?

        1. Lifelogic
          April 18, 2019

          Meanwhile some capable students even with A*A*A still cannot get places to study medicine when we are so short of good doctors and have to import about 50% of them.

      2. Narrow Shoulders
        April 18, 2019

        I’d vote for a transferable married tax allowance that included higher and top rate tax payers.

        I’d also like my children’s money back which is really just their tax allowance repaid.

      3. JoolsB
        April 18, 2019

        It would take a real Conservative party to deliver a manifesto like that Bob, something we are sadly lacking under May and the majority of Liberal lefties in the party. It comes to something when England’s young and elderly are being hung out to dry and future scientists and doctors the country needs are coming out of uni with crippling debts yet May will happily surrender £39 billion of our money for nothing plus an extra £1 billion a month for her treacherous extension and are proud of the fact that our foreign aid budget will rise to £20 billion by the end of this parliament. I’m sure Nigel would agree with us.

      4. Old person
        April 18, 2019

        Nobody will ever believe a manifesto again – if they ever did. The trust between the government and the electorate has completely gone.

        Best to look at the previous manifesto, see what wasn’t delivered, and what unmentioned and unnecessary laws were imposed on us to whittle away our freedoms and increase the tax take.

      5. Steve
        April 18, 2019


        Perhaps the following abolishments could also be suggested:

        Racist prescription charges.

        Racist university fees.

        Fuel retailers racketeering cartels.

        Bus Lanes.

        German and French cars.

        Political correctness.

        Pandering to minorities.

        HMRC operating from countries outside England.

        (same for DVLA, Passport Office.)

        Blair’s pub laws……..bring back traditional pub times, & reduce the crap the police have to deal with every weekend.

        SNP representation in the English parliament. (we don’t have any in theirs, so fair is fair)

        Local council Chief Executives.

        Credit reference agencies.

        Debt collection agencies.

      6. Caterpillar
        April 18, 2019

        HS2 must not be abolished. It is the only policy that moves something (transport hub) out of London. Whilst all 4 centres (transport, political, cultural, financial) are located in one city, and only one city is at economic scale then the country will not rebalance and will be unable to increase GVA per capita rapidly in other regions. Removing the London centricity can move the economy forward much more quickly. HS2 needs to accelerated. 6bn could be saved in not restoring Westminster and relocating the Political centre to the Midlands. The 6 billion saved could find HS3 Manchester to Leeds. Getting Birmingham and Manchester to scale, and transport hub and political centre out of London would push the UK forward.

  3. Dominic
    April 18, 2019

    Many thanks for an interesting article. I for one appreciate your efforts in trying to elucidate and illuminate those of us whose understanding of such issues is rather opaque

    Unfortunately, your analysis does not in anyway assist in trying to persuade traditional Labour voters that the party of sedition is in fact Labour without whose votes this PM’s Commons based approach to destroy Leave would not succeed

    It is important that all Leave voters are made aware that what we are now witnesses to is a Europhile Tory government and a Europhile Labour party working hand in hand to undermine the result of a democratic exercise. And that the majority of Tory MPs are on the side of traditional Labour voters (Leave voters)

    Labour’s treacherous, Machiavellian role in all this needs to be exposed. Corbyn and McDonnell also need to be exposed. Their double dealings is as patronising to Labour’s core vote is it is possible to get. They are in effect treating their core vote like idiots. That level of contempt for those voters that can deliver them power displays an arrogance that is difficult to quantify. They are utterly despicable individuals

    I think it is fair to say that Leave is dead in the water and that the WA treaty will bind the UK into a vassal relationship for many years to come. If the Tories fail to elect an ardent Eurosceptic as their next leader then the party will wither and die on the vine because Leave anger is going nowhere and the party that will benefit from this ‘ain’t gonna be’ Tory or Labour

  4. Adam
    April 18, 2019

    Both Conservative & Labour followers need better leaders.
    The Brexit Party is poised to lead, attracting both.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      April 18, 2019

      The Brexit Party and Nigrl Farshe, like UKIP, will not prevail in any FPTP elections because the progressives detest Farage so much they will always vote for anyone but Nigel.

      The only way single issue parties can make an impact is through proportional representation

      1. Adam
        April 18, 2019

        The Brexit Party may lead, by leading votes away from Labour & Conservative. FPTP is stacked against Farage gaining substantive seats in Westminster, yet the party’s performance is likely to have major bearing on the results.

        British MEP are elected by the PR system, so if those elections proceed, Farage may easily prevail there, as he has done so far.

    2. Bob
      April 18, 2019

      Do they have a manifesto?

      1. Adam
        April 18, 2019

        Apparently not yet, Bob, but the single issue of fulfilling Brexit is sharp-focused enough to concentrate support from Leavers. The party probably has a simpler & more effective message than that of having to deal with broader issues, which hamper the other parties’ stances.

      2. Gary C
        April 18, 2019

        “Do they have a manifesto?”

        Good question, the same could be asked of existing Conservative & Labour party’s.

        Oh hang on they did . . . . . . . But then they chose to ignore them!

  5. Ian wragg
    April 18, 2019

    Corbyn wants to bring down the government and helping May won’t achieve that. I think he’s stringing her along.

  6. Len Mears
    April 18, 2019

    It is perfectly obvious that there is only one way out of this. In 2016 voters were asked to support “Leave” but what that meant was never defined. So here we are, arguing about whether we should Leave with a customs union, Leave with dynamic alignment on labour laws, Leave on Mrs May’s terms, Leave with no deal, etc. Leavers need to decide what Leave really means. And then we should ask the people if that is what they really want.

    1. robert lewy
      April 18, 2019

      Len Mears,

      That is not correct.
      Leave voters have already made clear what they wanted to do – Just Leave.

      In fact there is no necessary link between what are in fact to separate decisions:

      1) Remain or Leave
      2) Post Leave arrangements

      Those wanting to Leave expected their wishes to be acted upon and at the earliest opportunity.

      The Post leave arrangements were not part of the referendum question and these should by negotiated only after we have left in the full knowledge that this way we would have maximum leverage given that EU wanted financial settlement and they also had a significant trade surplus to protect.

      May is her wisdom chose to ignore this obvious truth and the rest is history.

      History will be what Farage can do to turn things around.

    2. JoolsB
      April 18, 2019

      As long as the only choice is between what sort of leave we want and remain isn’t on the ballot.

    3. NickC
      April 18, 2019

      Len Grinds (sorry Mears), Of course Leave was defined. We voted to leave the EU treaties. That was fully explained by both the designated campaigns, VoteLeave and RemaIN. Even Art50 says so!

    4. Edward2
      April 18, 2019

      What Remain meant wasn’t defined.
      Remain spent all their time during the referendum campaign on Project Fear.

      Most pro EU fans have little idea what the future in the EU will be like.
      It shocks me how uninformed they are about the ambitions and strategy of the EU

    5. forthurst
      April 18, 2019

      As someone who actively campaigned to leave and informed voters what that would mean, I made it clear that we would control our own borders and our own fishing grounds, make our own laws and trade with whomsoever we wished, therefore I did not have to say that we would be leaving the Single Market, the CAP, CFP, the ECJ and the Customs Union because that would mean explaining what they were and how they constrained us. Why would we wish to align our laws with the EU unless they objectively benefited the country and the workforce? The EU has introduced laws aplenty without any being tested through debate.

    6. stred
      April 18, 2019

      It was defined in the government leaflet and during debates. It meant leaving the single market and therefore the customs union. The EU has said that it would not negotiate a trade deal before we leave and has insisted on an agreement to pay vast amounts and capitulate to EU law before negotiating. In order to negotiate a better deal for both parties, we have to leave without a deal. Germany sells 7 times as many cars to the UK as the UK sells to Germany. Spain, France, Holland and Denmark sell more food. The Commission will not talk until the commercial reality takes hols. This was explained during the referendum and the majority of leave voters can understand this, even if some Remainers obviously have great difficulty.

      The latest news is that, because the UK is doing better economically than most other countries in the EU, they are going to ask for an extra £20bn or some other ridiculous figure that Herr Selmayr has calculated. Leavers do not want to pay this when they can’t get a doctors appointment or cancer treatment with drugs that are rationed.

    7. Daniel Thomas
      April 18, 2019

      Yawn. Here we go again, Len Mears is still pushing the discredited line that ‘the people didn’t know what they were voting for’. It was clearly defined during the referendum campaign that leaving the EU meant leaving the customs union, leaving the single market and leaving the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

      Leavers decided back in 2016 what Leave really meant but Remainers like Len can’t accept their decision.

      1. Len Mears
        April 19, 2019

        Simply false. Owen Paterson said only a madman would leave the single market. Dan Hannan said that absolutely no one is talking about leaving the single market. And nobody even mentioned the customs union

        Reply I talked about both and said we would be leaving both in my many referendum campaign speechs

        1. Edward2
          April 19, 2019

          Read the Leaflet Len
          You were sent a copy.

    8. L Jones
      April 18, 2019

      Er – ”leave” …. ”depart from, go away from, go from, withdraw from, retire from, take oneself off from, exit from, take one’s leave of, pull out of, quit, be gone from, decamp from, disappear from, abandon, vacate, absent oneself from, evacuate; say one’s farewells….” Etc

      Is that a bit clearer now? Because it’s been clear to us leavers since 2016 and THAT’s what we wanted. So what part of ”leave” don’t YOU understand, Len?

    9. Jim R
      April 18, 2019

      You are right, there is one obvious way, with the definition of leave – just leave and on WTO rules, a good deal that is waiting for us. We never asked for the rest of the guff you mention, it was forced on us by a remain government and a biased civil service.
      The people have already spoken.

    10. Roy Grainger
      April 18, 2019

      It’s only people who voted Remain who apparently didn’t know what Leave meant. Of course they didn’t know what Remain meant either, EU army etc.

    11. Original Richard
      April 18, 2019

      Mr. Mears, I presume you refer to a second referendum without remain on the ballot paper as the decision as to whether to leave or remain has already been decided by the first referendum?

      And if you think that remain should be on the ballot paper, how will remain be defined ?

      In or out of Schengen?
      In or out of the Euro?
      Continuing with uncontrollable immigration?
      Handing over to Brussels control of our military and nuclear capabilities?
      Handing over to Brussels our foreign policy decisions and our permanent seat at the UN?
      Handing over to Brussels control over the size of our contributions to the EU budget?
      Handing over to Brussels our decisions on budgets, laws, taxes and trade?
      Handing over to Brussels our environmental, energy and immigration policies?
      Accepting further EU expansion eastwards (see Mr. Cameron’s “Atlantic to the Urals” speech in Kazakhstan in July 2013)?

      1. Len Mears
        April 19, 2019

        “Remain” means staying on the terms we have now – as the ECJ has confirmed we can. We have nothing to do with Schengen, the Euro or any of the other silly scare stories you attempt here

        1. Edward2
          April 19, 2019

          The Common Market changed over the years.
          The EU is just its current form.
          Read the Five Presidents Report Len.
          They have future plans.
          Remaining in the EU with a pro EU majority Parliament means we will continue to agree to nearly all these future changes.

    12. rose
      April 18, 2019

      The usual remainiac propaganda. Leavers know hat they want: to leave without paying a ransom. Leave means Leave: leave all the institutions of the EU.

    13. Numbnuts
      April 18, 2019

      We had the vote. Stop the sophistry.

    14. Mark B
      April 18, 2019

      When you say that you are leaving your job, your home, etc. what do you think the word, LEAVE means ?

      Because if you think it means to vacate perminatly and completely then you know what Leaving the EU meant.

    15. John C.
      April 18, 2019

      Leave means Leave and does not mean staying in bits of the EU. Simple really. Nothing else is Leave.

    16. Fedupsoutherner
      April 18, 2019

      Len. How about Leave? End of.

      1. Gary C
        April 18, 2019

        Agreed, that’s what we voted for.

  7. Oliver
    April 18, 2019

    Hav’n’t we reached the moment where it is clear we need someone to take legal action to prevent this unrepresentative Parliament abusing its power by binding its successors into a Treaty it has no mandate to approve?

    Parts of the UK may welcome a Corbyn “government”, but England won’t stand for it.

    1. JoolsB
      April 18, 2019

      “Parts of the UK may welcome a Corbyn “government”, but England won’t stand for it.”

      Yes especially one propped up by the SNP. That might be just what England needs to say finally say enough is enough of being treated with such utter contempt both constitutionally and financially by UK Governments of both colours, shamefully this Tory one included which would not exist without English votes.

    2. Carolyn
      April 18, 2019

      Hear hear!

  8. Alan Jutson
    April 18, 2019

    The mistake was for Mrs May to give Corbyn the key to a solution, by doing that she has buried her own Party certainly for the next election, and probably for many more to come, as she can no longer say he and his Party cannot be trusted, because she trusts him !!!

    The only real way out is for Mrs May to realise what a huge mistake the last 2 plus years have been, and walk away on WTO terms.

    1. robert lewy
      April 18, 2019

      Spot on

  9. Mike Stallard
    April 18, 2019

    Just one question amidst all this theological hair splitting:

    Where is Mr Corbyn trying to get to?

    1. Mark B
      April 18, 2019

      Number 10 Downing Street, London. As a resident.

  10. Peter Miller
    April 18, 2019

    In my opinion, the most scary scenario is this:

    1. Our crafty marxist obfuscates for the next six months, accusing the Tories of being inflexible and claiming Labour was always open to compromise.

    2. As the end of September draws near, Labour changes tact and states it will only support another referendum, whose result has to be binding on the government and that becomes its official policy.

    3. Labour ends up as being seen as ‘democratic’ and can only win as it would not care about the outcome of such a referendum, for it only cares about grabbing power and Venezueling our economy.

  11. Wilfrid Whattam
    April 18, 2019

    Corbyn has always favoured ‘a’ Customs Agreement, not ‘the’ Customs Agreement. Perhaps this fact is falling through the cracks of the negotiations (aka capitulations).

    What a godawful mess. People are just sick of the whole business. Even the Guardian is thankfully quieter – though that is also a worry for us Leavers, in that it points to success for the Remain betrayal.

    1. NickC
      April 18, 2019

      Wilfred, Corbyn is splitting hairs: “a” customs union, and “the” customs union is a distinction without a difference because the EU would still control our trade policy. Re-gaining control of our trade policy was one of the main points of the Leave campaigns, which a majority voted for.

    2. Numbnuts
      April 18, 2019

      Many people are not sick of the whole business. We have waited a long time for Brexit and will not be denied by a small number of anti-democrats.

  12. Lifelogic
    April 18, 2019

    A very good analysis of the Labour position. Let us hope Labour do not collude with May to force the UK into the dire £39 billion straight jacket.

    So the Conservatives are polling at 17% and Brexit and UKIP together on 29%. 17% is surprisingly high given the current appalling and fraudulent PM and government. Lots of good sense from David Starkey on Iain Dale LBC last night (though not much sense from his other guests at all). He described May was the worst PM in English History. Certainly the worst that I have lived through and with rather stiff competitive from Heath, Major, Brown, Blair and Cameron in particular.

    What are the government (and police) going to do about the criminal road and bridge blocking that seems to be being cheered on by the London Mayor, the BBC, parts of this government and the usual deluded alarmist suspects?

    1. Lifelogic
      April 18, 2019

      Allister Heath is spot on today, as usual.

      “It will soon be too late to save the Conservatives from annihilation
      With nothing to say on Brexit or the economy, 
the Tories now face 
a wipe-out at the polls”

      What did they expect after the great May betrayal and dishonesty?

      1. Steve
        April 18, 2019


        “What did they expect after the great May betrayal and dishonesty?”

        LMAO……they expected to get away with it !

    2. NickC
      April 18, 2019

      Lifelogic, This is what Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement (vs 0) on page 310, says about customs unions:
      Article 6: “Until the future relationship becomes applicable, a single customs territory between the Union and the United Kingdom shall be established (“the single customs territory”). Accordingly, Northern Ireland is in the same customs territory as Great Britain.
      The single customs territory shall comprise:
      (a) the customs territory of the Union defined in Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013; and
      (b) the customs territory of the United Kingdom

      Without splitting hairs, that seems to be the Labour customs union position. Of course with all the other provisions, as a treaty, the WA would lock the UK firmly back under EU control from CJEU, to CU, to SM, to CFP, to CAP, to defence, security and diplomacy. All without an exit clause.

      The only flimsy protection we have at the moment, apart from court cases, is that Remains do not want to be seen to own Remain.

  13. Dave Andrews
    April 18, 2019

    I suggest Jeremy Corbyn continues the appearance of having talks. He can say that we should await the result of the European Parliament elections, as that will demonstrate the collapse of the Tory vote, on the pretext that it will be an appropriate occasion to judge the mood of the country.
    Eventually he will announce the breakdown of talks, because Theresa May is too stubborn (who would argue with that?).
    The best solution then is to have a general election, which is what he really wanted all along.

  14. Richard1
    April 18, 2019

    What a situation Conservative MPs have allowed Mrs May to get the Country into – waiting for a revolutionary Marxist and terrorist sympathiser to calculate which route ensures the worst possible outcome for the Country with the maximum chance of the chaos which Corbyn and his gang think will bring about an election and their chance to implement Socialism in One Country.

    If I were a Conservative MP I would be thinking night & day – how do I get rid of Mrs May? Nothing good can come while she is in office.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      April 18, 2019

      Dear Richard–Imagine the joy and hope were we to wake up tomorrow morning to be told that this provincial uninspiring and always wrong woman had been thrown out overnight–and as ignominuously as possible.

  15. /IKH
    April 18, 2019

    Hi John,

    The key point of the political declaration is that is not legally binding. No matter what Mr. Corbyn negotiates it does not bind a future PM to go in that direction. Any agreement that Labour get for a Customs Union is meaningless if it is in the political declaration. A future PM can ignore it.


    1. matthu
      April 18, 2019

      Unfortunately, it would restrict the UK in that any attempt to divert from the political declaration would simply be met with intransigence – and ultimate descent into the backstop. There would be no escape.

    2. Sharon Jagger
      April 18, 2019


      I read an article by an anonymous civil servant that said Donald Tusk wrote to Teresa May on 15th January confirming that the WA and the Political Declaration are a package that work together, and I was under the impression that that too is set in stone.

      “… can be made clear that these two documents, while being of a different nature, are part of the same negotiated order to underline the close relationship between the two texts, they can be published side by side in the Official Journal in a manner reflecting the link between the two as provided for in Article 50 of the treaty on European Union (TEU)”

      The civil servant explained that the PD replicates all the onerous “non-regression clauses of the backstop and requires even more surrender of sovereignty in full adherence to the acquisition communautaire in all policy areas.

      Can we be sure it’s not legally binding?

      The article was published on Brexit Central 2019

  16. agricola
    April 18, 2019

    Lets hope he reads your diary. It still remains the only honest to the referendum result to leave with no deal or WA. This also avoids the embarssment of an EU election. A 2nd referendum in another name.

    Will the Commons return from Easter with any greater clarity having realised the feeling back at base. Get it wrong and that is the end of the Conservative party as we know it. Returning to Corbyn, there are not many brownie points for him in the country at large and specifically in the northern leave areas.

  17. David Maples
    April 18, 2019

    All Corbyn has to do is sit on his hands and wait for the Tories to collapse into their own contradictions. He doesn’t have to do anything else, or commit to anything as long as Brexit opprobrium falls squarely on the Tories. When a general election finally comes, he can expect a lot of disaffected Conservative voters to throw caution to the wind and vote Labour out of bloody minded frustration. Labour’s manifesto will affect a statesmanlike ‘vote for us and ‘we will do what has to be done’…thus fobbing off both Leavers and Remainers!

    1. agricola
      April 18, 2019

      I doubt your predictions as to what disaffected Tory voters might do. Negatively they can abstain, positively they can vote Brexit. It will only happen if May continues on her path to self destruction.

    2. 'None of the above'.
      April 18, 2019

      What makes you think that any dispossessed voter would support any candidate that represents a party currently in this Parliament?

  18. Dominic
    April 18, 2019

    The dilemma is simple. How do we make Labour’s core vote realise that the party they vote for without thinking has betrayed them both over many decades and over Brexit in the Commons?

    Many Northern voters simply do not understand the mechanics and mathematics of the Commons and simply assume the treachery is being committed by a Tory government without realising that without Labour support this Tory government could not achieve its policy of destroying Brexit

    The north of England is ripe and anger surrounding Brexit is widespread. They feel the betrayal. The BP or a Tory party with a Eurosceptic leader prepared to speak about every issue imaginable could clear up

    There can be no sacred cows or else Labour will achieve power. Labour and their crimes, their threat to us all and their plans to destroy everything we are must be exposed

  19. Christine
    April 18, 2019

    What a sad state of affairs, whereby both parties are willing to sell out the future of their country for party political gain. The majority of the British people can see it for what it is and will not forgive or forget. Hence the meteoric rise of The Brexit party, which will continue into the next General Election. We are tired and disgusted with May and Corbyn. You have only a few weeks left to get rid of May and she must be replaced with a strong Brexit leader. This excludes anyone from the current cabinet.

    1. JoolsB
      April 18, 2019

      Totally agree Christine. May’s successor must be a Brexiteer and if any of the cabinet end up being May’s Successor thanks to their stupid rules that disallow members from choosing until the final two have been selected by MPs, then they will be just as detested and unelectable as they are under May.

  20. Norman
    April 18, 2019

    Sadly, John, this Pied Piper knows how to beguile the young Lemmings, whatever tune he chooses to play.

  21. John Sheridan
    April 18, 2019

    The latest polling results for the Conservatives are appalling and should be of grave concern to Tory HQ. It confirms that the party under Mrs May is on the wrong track; core voters are being alienated.

    Getting the flawed WA over the line with Labour votes would do irreparable damage to the Tory party and some damage to the Labour. The worry is that Labour see a route to power (coalition with the SNP) by supporting the WA in return for some warm words about the PD.

    Mrs May is wedded to the WA and so the Tory party needs to change leader now. If it does not, then it deserves to lose many of its core voters to the Brexit Party.

  22. Bryan Harris
    April 18, 2019

    The labour party has never been one that would do the best for the country – They are labour first and the country a poor third, so we shouldn’t expect any good to come from Corbyn. He will do whatever it takes to make the Tories look bad and labour the party of the people.
    It is though, still May we have to worry about, and I would beg the Tory party do something about her, rather than Parliament staggering from one vote to another, with her majority increasing each time, something has to be done to stop her – and do it before October.
    Changes are clearly needed to Tory party rules that currently protect appalling leaders – and also labour’s… Some kind of national standard should be adopted to protect the country from irrational PM’s.

  23. Andy
    April 18, 2019

    A Tory accusing the EU of ‘austerity economics’ is rather ironic. The UK is in the mess it is in because of Conservative ‘austerity.’

    Conservative austerity, by the way, does not mean responsible spending on services. It means axing as much as you possibly can from the poor to benefit the super-rich. It is okay for a disabled single mum and her child to be kicked out of their home and to live off food banks because it has too many bedrooms, providing angry old retired colonel down the road doesn’t have to pay an extra penny on the pound in income tax – or 47p more to fill up his car.

    These are the choices the Brexiteer elite have made. Every time they have put the interests of the few ahead of the basic needs of the many. And yet, staggeringly, they claim to be the anti-elite and – even more staggeringly – swathes of people are dumb enough to believe then.

    Reply Not true. Cuts in public spending were far harsher on the continent under the full rigours of Euro discipline. In the UK real public spending carried on rising, though at a very slow rate, under the Coalition.

    1. Dave Andrews
      April 18, 2019

      We haven’t had any austerity for a very long time.
      Austerity is when you tighten your belt and pay down your debts, not carry on borrowing and spending yet more.

    2. Anonymous
      April 18, 2019

      I know quite a few retired colonels and a couple of serving ones too – without exception they are lovely people. Good humoured and public spirited.

      Away with your wicked stereotyping.

      1. Anonymous
        April 18, 2019

        These climate change protesters seem to be getting a lot of leeway, respect and airtime.

        Perhaps using the ballot box peacefully was a mistake.

        Perhaps we Brexit voters should learn from this.

        (Incidentally – if we are poorer then Brexit should be good for the environment.)

    3. agricola
      April 18, 2019

      First paragraph is amnaesic rubbish. Austerity or not spending what you do not have is a direct result of Labour spending it all prior to 2010. No ifs or buts, end of story. EU austerity was Germany trying to impose it’s sensible economics on a profligate number of EU members to their south.

      To recover from socialist spend without responsibility you have two choices.

      1. Free up the productive elements in the economy from tax and over regulation. Then benefit from the trickle down effect. This seems to be Trumps approach to the problem.

      2. Tax excessively and redistribute the result. This has a debillitating effect on those keen on work and being productive. A dependency society is not a healthy one. This does not mean that I would not look after those who really need it, and better than fhey do at present.

      Our regime seems to have chosen a path between which means we could possibly have recovered a bit faster. No worries we are doing better than most in the EU. Free of it after a short acclimatization I anticipate our economy will soar. Given the right conditions we are that sort of nation.

    4. Richard1
      April 18, 2019

      As ever the facts contradict the rant. Tax / GDP is also at a record level also, and the rich are paying more than ever. Income inequality is declining and the UK is in the middle of the pack in Europe for wealth inequality (though with countries like Switzerland and Germany showing much higher wealth inequality it’s not obvious that’s a good thing). Always heartening to see someone so angry about brexit talking nonsense and making false claims – an indication perhaps that the Country has made the right choice.

    5. Roy Grainger
      April 18, 2019

      It’s not OK for a disabled single mum to be kicked out of her home and live off food banks. Luckily that this is only happening in your fevered imagination. Youth unemployment in Southern Europe – just remind me of the figures again ? Still, they have freedom of movement eh ?

    6. margaret howard
      April 18, 2019

      Reply to reply

      Where on the continent? Are you just referring to Greece where special circumstances demanded action to save the country from going under because of its own past profligacy?

      1. Edward2
        April 18, 2019

        Cyprus Portugal Spain Italy.
        What kind of club is it when many nations weaker than Germany are left out to dry.
        You pro EU fans talk about the solidarity of the bloc but you are quick to say serve them right when they struggle Margaret.

        1. margaret howard
          April 19, 2019


          Having so far just checked the economy of Cyprus on Wiki you will be pleased to read the following:

          “Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, Cyprus has had a record of successful economic performance, reflected in strong growth, full employment conditions and relative stability.

          The underdeveloped agrarian economy inherited from colonial rule has been transformed into a modern economy, with dynamic services, industrial and agricultural sectors and an advanced physical and social infrastructure. The Cypriots are among the most prosperous people in the Mediterranean region, with nominal GDP per capita exceeding $25,000 in 2017”

    7. acorn
      April 18, 2019

      Andy, the government’s own accounts tell that in 2010 total Local Government resources were £166 billion. Eight years later, total Local Government resources are £160 billion. These are nominal spending figures that do not account for inflation or the increase in the population.

      To have stayed on 2000 -2010 nominal spending trendline, Local Government should be spending £230 billion this year.

      1. Edward2
        April 18, 2019

        State spending in 2000 was 350 bn
        By 2020 it is projected to be 870 bn

        1. acorn
          April 19, 2019

          Local government spending is historically a quarter of state spending. So by your reckoning, local government spending should be circa £220 billion in 2020.

          BTW Edward2. Your reply to my ” storm before the lull” being silly. See in the Times “The operator of the Channel tunnel has reported a rise in first-quarter revenues as businesses used its freight shuttle service to stockpile for Brexit.”

          1. Edward2
            April 19, 2019

            So you agree, it isn’t a lack of State spending, it is about spending priorities.
            And efficient use of resources.

            Your second point is still silly.
            You previously claimed all the recent increases in employment was due to companies increasing stocks.
            Your example provided has no link to employment.
            It just shows that one cross channel operator is a bit busier.

  24. Sir Joe Soap
    April 18, 2019

    You might care to take the log out of your own eye. Corbyn’s dilemma is only a subset of May’s. You’re playing May’s game of trying to load her troubles onto another team, and it won’t work in the long run. People are tired and will either vote Libdem or Brexit. Tory and Labour will be left to the tribal few.

    Reply I am doing no such thing. I have made clear my opposition to Mrs May’s approach to this, but now the future of her Agreement does rest with Mr Corbyn

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      April 18, 2019

      Reply to reply: Yes, but only because of what May has done! If this all works out well for her, and her WA goes through, will Labour ask for your support to attack landlords, small businesses, and property owners generally? It could be happening as we speak.

      A plague on both your houses. Nobody voted Conservative to have Labour drive policy.

  25. Everhopeful
    April 18, 2019

    So how does Mrs May think the winning Leave voters are going to feel when she rams her surrender treaty through with the help of the opposition ( ie..NOT the elected government)?
    Happy? Inclined to vote Tory? Elated at being hogtied to the EU.

    Exactly the same happened in Ireland so our government must have recognised the process.
    Vowing to respect the referendum result then muddying the water, creating chaos.Second ref etc.
    Actually it is probably ok if the Tories implode ‘ cos when Corbyn wins the next GE May will just refuse to accept the result.

    She will still be in power because she has done such a great job for the EU and made such strides towards gagging us all!

    One thing is very clear now though. As we suspected.. it was never just about trade!!

    1. Everhopeful
      April 18, 2019

      Win win for the EU though.
      a) Oldest democracy in the world destroyed and humiliated.
      b) Same democracy now rendered ungovernable.
      c) Horrible warning to any other country wanting to escape.

      But the British seem even more determined.

  26. formula57
    April 18, 2019

    Despite being a putative Brexiteer, Mr. Corbyn might wish to share Mrs. May’s ignominious place in history. Strangely, we just don’t know.

  27. Edwardm
    April 18, 2019

    Let’s just hope Corbyn continues to out manoeuvre Mrs May.
    There is very little apparent logic in any of this apart from the conclusion that Mrs May (with her cohorts) is colluding with the EU against British interests. She has already expended the Conservative party.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      April 18, 2019

      Is she that clever?

  28. DaveM
    April 18, 2019

    Sir John:

    “The party would then become a pro Remain party and lose most of its Leave voters. It would be scorned by at least half the electorate as anti democratic for going back on its word to accept the result of the original referendum.”

    Sorry – are you talking about Labour or May’s Conservatives?

    Must be Labour – far more than “half the electorate” has already scorned the duplicity and lies of May and the party still sitting on their hands behind her.

    I admire your blog Mr R, but you are now shouting into a force 10 gale, and no one’s listening to you any more. Everything your party has promised has either turned out to be lies or vote-winning rhetoric.

    Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by imagining the electorate will return to LabCon after the locals and EU elections. We’ve been stung by that before, and betrayed, mocked, and taken for granted. This is the turning point.

    No Brexit = no votes. Sympathy for terrorists and scroungers while servicemen are prosecuted = no votes. May as leader = no votes.

  29. Steve
    April 18, 2019

    Mr Corbyn, hmm….what can you say ?

    He’s an annoyance and that’s about it.

    1. agricola
      April 18, 2019

      Worse than that he is selling out of date medication to the gullible and idealistic. They do not deserve the disappointment when his whole economic facade falls apart.

  30. Oggy
    April 18, 2019

    I see 2 polls today now put the Brexit party surging ahead in the Euro elections.

    Sir John regarding your letter to the attorney general and which said letter I sent to my remainer Labour MP. Yesterday I received a reply from her to say she has voted against the WA 3 times already and will do so again. She also stated she wants a CU with the EU as part of our future relationship, however, she omitted to say how that will be achieved given that the WA has to be signed first which she says she will oppose. She also confirmed her change of position on a second referendum which she now supports.

    I hope that a good result for the Brexit party in the Euro elections will concentrate minds in all parties.

    1. DaveM
      April 18, 2019

      Too late for them I think Oggy. Our tactical voting “concentrated the minds” 3 years ago, then when we lent our votes to the Con Party, they went back on their word and ignored our instruction. From what I see and hear, the general feeling seems to be “we won’t get fooled again”.

      Even with a new leader I feel the trust is gone. Certainly mine has.

    2. SueW
      April 18, 2019

      At least you have had a reply from your MP. My Tory remain voting but now pseudo leave supporting (in deference to the 70% leave vote in his constituency) MP Matt Warman has not replied to either of the last two messages I have sent him. the last one being a copy of Sir John’s letter. He has always voted in favour of the WA and has repeated Mrs May’s lies to me in the past assuring me that it will deliver Brexit. I don’t know what is wrong with the man.

  31. Roy Grainger
    April 18, 2019

    One thing Corbyn could do is whip to support the WA and if that vote passes immediately call a confidence vote on the basis some ERG would then abstain. I suppose the ERG might still even then support May on the basis they can disrupt the necessary legislation and in the forlorn hope May was actually telling the truth when she said she’d step down if it passed. PM Corbyn could then ask a suddenly more compliant EU to defer final ratification of the WA until after a confirmatory (losers) referendum on the final deal.

    Anyway, looking at the polling Corbyn seems to be doing reasonably OK with his current strategy.

  32. Merlin
    April 18, 2019

    I agree with both people above.

    It is very curious how Brexit is destroying old political allegiances.

    People are starting to identify themselves as ‘Brexiters’ and ‘Remainers’ rather than Conservative or Labour.

    It seems we have opened a Pandora’s box that is eating away at our whole political system. I’m interested to see what will replace it.

    1. Numbnuts
      April 18, 2019

      Nationalists versus globalists is the new political divide exposed by Brexit.

      1. Edward2
        April 18, 2019

        Indeed well spotted NM local democracy versus do as you are told by your betters.
        With the EU UN IMF and elite billionaires all in favour of globalism.

    2. Steve
      April 18, 2019


      You make some interesting points.

      I agree the country is polarised. However if indeed as history repeats, then we may well see a further metamorphosis into something like Nationalists and ‘traitors’ as they will be perceived.

      It seems politicians have an inherent knack of creating ideal conditions for nationalist uprising, no matter what the country.

      Never the less this government and Parliament has been warned often enough of what will be unleashed if they compromise or stop brexit.

      Pandora’s box is a good analogy, and come the scrap we will not be losing sovereignty because of a bunch of traitors.

      We either walk away from the EU, or it goes to the streets and gets settled the old fashioned way. It won’t be nice, but that’s where we’re heading.

    3. Peter Parsons
      April 18, 2019

      Hopefully something representative.

  33. margaret
    April 18, 2019

    This political manoeuvring doesn’t really hold up in my eyes, however I am not amongst the many who enjoy double speak and attempted thought control. Mr Corbyn originally wanted out of the EU and that is before any other with the exception of yourself John ; granted he decides with the majority of his own party , but they are faithful to him.
    To me, despite the leverage from all sides pulling their own stubborn rope, the essential matter is simple , we want out and want to enable all to trade freely without control from Brussels. I am surprised other Countries don’t want similar. Perhaps they haven’t read George Orwell.

  34. JoolsB
    April 18, 2019

    Even deluded May will have seen the polls and realise the Tories are going to be annihilated in the EU elections. She will now want to avoid them at any cost and want to deprive the Brexit party and the people their say, such is the democracy (not) that we live in, so she will no doubt now rub out her final red lines and agree to Labour’s demands for a customs union and a second referendum so she can get her attrocious surrender treaty over the line.

    1. Mark B
      April 18, 2019


      If she actually cared about the Nasty Party then I would agree, but remember, she is willing to sell us all out and that includes the Tories.

      Just like TB she only sees political parties as a means to their ends.

  35. Alastair Harris
    April 18, 2019

    There is no dilemma. He should allow Mrs May to continue to flop around like a fish out of water, which he does by not supporting her in parliament. At some point she will fall. She is already disgraced. For Corbyn this is win win. He can’t solve the Brexit problem. But he can profit from it.

  36. Gareth Warren
    April 18, 2019

    A good analysis, if Corbyn had been pro-EU he would have voted through the withdrawal agreement, he is politically astute though so the biggest dilemma has to be in forcing out May he will get Boris.

    As long as May stays at the head of the conservative party labour benefit, I also wonder if he realizes the withdrawal treaty is a poisoned chalice.

    My guess that he will see the best advantage in not signing, the risk of no deal would be seen as short term downturn according to mainstream media and would be politically perfect. The risk of a Boris led conservative party isn’t certain and even he might bomb in the polls like Theresa May did, I personally don’t believe Boris will but in such a future the remain media would be against him.
    He will also then count on remain MPs leaving the conservative party.

    My guess would be no deal or no brexit takes no responsibility and hence he will go for that, the polls have shown that successful, hence his calls for a second referendum – something politically suicidal that he can make as unreasonable as possible.

  37. Timaction
    April 18, 2019

    What an undemocratic mess your Government has made. We voted no deal. May has to go by any means. Your party will not recover this betrayal. Read the political blogs and you will see.

  38. Stred
    April 18, 2019

    Labour and Conservatives may agree to voting through the capitulation treaty in order to avoid the humiliation of a defeat in the European Parliament elections. At present, Labour is higher in the polls than Conservative but this could change once their voters outside London realise that they favour a Customs Union and this means free movement and everything else that they don’t like.

    1. John O'Leary
      April 18, 2019

      A customs union does not mean free-movement. A customs union is about applying a common external tariff. Freedom of movement goes with the single market/EEA. It would appear that Labour have no idea what a customs union is either, even though they want one.

      1. Stred
        April 19, 2019

        The single market and Customs Union are fundamental to the EU. They will insist on their pillars, including freedom of movement. They have said so many times.

  39. Rien Huizer
    April 18, 2019

    Mr Redwood,

    This is interesting. You seem to worry about mr Corbyn’s problems. Taking a closer look, it appears that your concerns and advice are mixed with wishful thinking. The brexit issues (there are many) that seem to be damaging the Conservative Party are not quite the same as the ones that threaten the “socialists”. Labour spokesmen made it quite clear. They do not have a fundamental problem with a different relationship with the EU than membership. They dislike membership because of its “capitalist” features (no state support, cheap labour imports etc) but they like trade protection. That is why they dislike the “Tory brexit” (the ERG version) even more. What Britain suffers from is two kinds of anachronistic idealisms (nationalism vs socialism) and a fundamental difference on what marxists call “neoliberal” social economic policies. Tories are pro the neoliberal mix (a US import, often sold packaged with neoconservative political ideology) and Labour against. However most people sem to be quite happy with a little bit of everything: no closed shop, no sweatshop. No fantasies of a restauration of Victorian Englishness but no postmodern lack of traditional morals either and a degree of openness to foreign cultures.

    The scenario you are sketching here (corbyn whipping his party to support the WAB as is or with some fuzzy language re CU and protections) looks pretty stupid from Labour’s point of view, although the membership is “remainish”. But the contest is no longer about leaveing or remaining. There is no way back to remaning and most EU governments are happy with that, although there will be losers who will complain. Not to have the status quo ante restored idealistically but for the more pedestrian reason of bargaining for compensation or relaxation of budget constraints.

    A little thought experiment: I am beginning to think (and I am not a UK resident or involved in business affected by any form of brexit) that no deal is the least complicated outcome. Would that (hypothetically) place me in the Tory camp (also taking into account that in normal times Tory would have been my party and definitely not Labour) re Brexit? Strangely enough, I believe that the WA plus Labour’s aims for the Political Declaration would be much better for the UK economy (though not the manistream parties now the well has been poisoned by poorly introduced US political ideology and populist techniques). But the “much better” is probably trumped by the less complicated no deal. Where would that put the well informed Tory able to see beyound nationalist nostalgia?

    The same calculation was made in Brussels not long ago and the combination of the UK ‘s “least complicated” and the EU’s perception of a UK that lacks credibility plus brexit fatigue at all levels (Commission and intergovernmental) will make it fairly easy for your tribe within the Conservative Party to get their way, as long as Mrs May can be made to do the dirty work a little longer. So much for idealism, a cynic would say.

  40. Polly
    April 18, 2019

    If there’s a saying which is so 2019, imho, it just has to be…………

    Follow The Money !

    1. Mark B
      April 18, 2019

      Yep ! Then there Four Freedoms can be very useful to the right people with the right connections.

  41. James Bertram
    April 18, 2019

    Surely the possibility of May doing a deal with Labour reinforces the need to get rid of her NOW. Can’t you lock her in a cupboard, or something?
    What is your Cabinet doing? – nothing, it would seem.
    When are ‘Leavers’ going to have the courage to split, and fight an election as the Real Tory party? – never, it would seem.
    Fiddling while Rome burns.
    If something radical is not done very soon, then this is the end of the Conservative Party – and few will be sorry.
    Action needed, and urgently.

    1. Steve
      April 18, 2019

      James Bertram

      “If something radical is not done very soon, then this is the end of the Conservative Party – and few will be sorry.
      Action needed, and urgently.”

      It’s too late James. They’ve had plenty of opportunities, and wasted every one of them.

      Many tory MP’s are now admitting their party is finished. They know what’s coming.

  42. bigneil
    April 18, 2019

    If I may – 2 totally off topic points

    1) The Climate protesters yesterday who stopped the DLR and inevitably caused untold disruption to numerous people, job interviews, hospital appointments etc. How I wish those affected could all get together and sue the gloating idiots on the top of the train.

    2) Announced that Crossrail could be delayed yet again – and another pile of taxpayer’s cash gets heaped onto the payment. Does ANY big project EVER get finished ON TIME and at the ORIGINAL price?

    1. Steve
      April 18, 2019


      Re your point 1 :

      Yes I agree they should be sued by those concerned for loss of earnings, then made to go and get jobs.

      However they ignore the real cause of the issue – the fact that it’s political.

      China and India have combined populations of about 2 billion, and they all want western technology.

      With them accounting for a third of the world’s population it’s obvious who’s stinking the planet out.

      How is it fair that an island with a population of a mere 60 million should be forced to pay for the pollution of two billion ?

      China and India should not be burning fossil fuels, the planet cannot withstand it.

  43. Nicholas Murphy
    April 18, 2019

    Yep – May’s commitment to Bring has got us to the point where the Conservative Party is increasingly hated – HATED – by …. Conservatives. I hope May read the comments.

    1. Captain Peacock
      April 18, 2019

      The problem with today’s Tory party there’s no Tories in it.
      Soon there will be no Tory voters well done Tory MPs.

  44. Treacle
    April 18, 2019

    The Conservative Party is now completely lost and faces wipe-out. It has refused to implement what the country voted for in a referendum and reneged on its central general election manifesto promise. Its only hope now is to replace Mrs May immediately, disown her actions, replace her with a Prime Minister and cabinet that support Brexit, and leave the EU properly. Even if it does that, many people will never trust it or vote for it again.

  45. graham1946
    April 18, 2019

    Labour are committed to staying in and defying the referendum. There cannot be any other reason why they are obsessed with a Customs Union. All that is needed is a Free Trade Agreement to keep trade the way it is thereby helping both the EU and the UK. If we faced the EU with this or leaving with no deal and no money, they would agree. I don’t think this is Corbyn’s idea, I think his strings are being pulled by Starmer. Corbyn is not as secure as his members think and I think Starmer has his own personal agenda. When they finally sign the surrender document, all parliamentary efforts will be used to try to fool the people that it is leaving, thinking the public are too stupid to differentiate between chalk and cheese.

  46. Brigham
    April 18, 2019

    The fact that May has seen all the polls and has not resigned indicates to me that she has some kind of mental problem. Somebody should send the men in white coats round to number 10.

  47. William Long
    April 18, 2019

    I should have thought Mr Corbyn’s objective must be to bring down the Government and force a general election while Mrs May still leads the Conservative party. Therefore he needs to find a way of getting the WA defeated yet again in the House of Commons.
    While I do not think the Conservatives have the faintest chance of winning an election under Mrs may’s leadership, I should by no means be so despondent of their chances under another leader who wanted to Leave the EU, believed in Conservatism and was capable of transmitting its powerful message: a tall order I admit, but I think such people do exist.
    Could the Leader be replaced after the passing of a no-confidence vote, and before the opening of an election campaign?

  48. BR
    April 18, 2019

    The article seems to assume that May will be in post through all of this, however I see that there are moves afoot over the Easter recess to unseat her, via 4 different routes. Each of these will take some time and has a degree of uncertainty.

    The other route is to abstain or vote against in a VoNC. There may be some opprobrium for MPs bringing down their own government, however it would almost certainly lead to nothing other than a change of Conservative leader and if the WA is voted through with the backstop that would lose the DUP, so there would be a minority government that would be unable to do anything but limp on to 2022 hoping that the electorate forget the betrayal.

    I see that as brutal but necessary. If there is any possibility of that treaty being foisted on us in perpetuity (and supposedly we cannot withdraw even under the Vienna Convention since the treaty is being placed under the jurisdiction of EU law/courts) then measures must be taken to avoid that outcome at all costs – the future of the country trumps all other considerations. This is clearly an attempt to bind future Parliaments so I dd not understand why sensible MPs are not saying that they will not honour such an arrangement (assuming that they ever get the parliamentary arithmetic to even try to rescind it).

    But Labour would have no problem framing a manifesto for the EU elections, all the need say is that if circumstances dictate that they take their seats then they would be working within the EU to secure their Brexit objectives. Deliciously vague, as their policy has always been.

  49. Anonymous
    April 18, 2019

    The Tories couldn’t see off Miliband and now they can’t see off Corbyn.

    They’ve had open goal after open goal since Blair and have so consistently failed to score that it must be deliberate.

    I am no longer a supporter.

    “Head Girl is given a free kick but trips over a daisy and falls flat outside the penalty area. she shows her sad-clown face to the home crowd. They think it’s all over – well it effing well is now !!!”

  50. Martin
    April 18, 2019

    There is of course a Redwood type solution to Brexit. The Scottish government should have been allowed to negotiate Scotland’s position with the EU.

    EVEL (English Votes English Laws) would then apply and the Westminster parliamentary arithmetic would be more favourable to your position. Scotland’s MPs have generally voted Remain as did their constituents.

    1. Edward2
      April 18, 2019

      To do that Merlin, Scotand would need first to vote to be independent.

  51. Marcus
    April 18, 2019

    Corbyn is for Corbyn just as Boris is for Boris, no difference, both just want to get the reins of power at no.10, although don’t think there will be much left after all of this

  52. Sue Doughty
    April 18, 2019

    No Deal or No Party. This applies to both major parties now.

  53. Roy Grainger
    April 18, 2019

    One thing you ignore in your analysis is that Corbyn’s idea of Brexit is entirely at odds with that of Starmer who is his shadow Brexit secretary. We’re getting to hear Starmer a lot currently who wants to engineer Revoke, but I suspect ultimately Corbyn is a Leaver and will prevail.

  54. Captain Peacock
    April 18, 2019

    Its not May’s deal its Merkel’s deal and it will cost the UK taxpayer £403 million a week !!! over 3 years. We are to become an EU subservient state will no rights over our laws our immigration policy or trade agreements. Of course May’s newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister will agree to our surrender .
    When are some Tory MPs going to jump ship to the Brexit party?

  55. Tweeter_L
    April 18, 2019

    I totally agree with the numerous comments here about Mrs May and Mr Corbyn: both are a disgrace and most of the Shadow Cabinet is no better. The other disgrace is the blatantly partisan Speaker. What on earth can be done about him?

  56. mancunius
    April 18, 2019

    I am genuinely puzzled: Why are May and Corbyn haggling with each other about the political declaration, which is 1) non-binding and 2) subject to negotiation with the the EU, which has insisted – as JR points out – they will not reopen it until after the WA is ratified by parliament?
    Once the WA is passed, the EU – having gained everything it wants – will immediately slow further negotiations to a snail’s pace. It might take a decade for any further agreement to be settled.

    May and Corbyn can talk all they like, but they cannot negotiate a treaty with the EU just between the two of them.

  57. mancunius
    April 18, 2019

    Meanwhile, I note (over on Brexit Central) that Prof. Minford believes that we can easily break the WAPD Treaty with a new government, once we have technically left the EU – but that not ratifying the WA plays into the hands of remainers and greatly risks a Remain referendum.

    What you think of his arguments, Sir John? The remain danger if we don’t leave now seems quite strong with this parliament, as Minford suggests.

    Reply We do not leave under tge WA but bind ourselves into the EU

    1. mancunius
      April 18, 2019

      Reply to Reply – I agree with you about the import of the WA. But whereas a new future government and newly-elected majority brexit parliament could defy the EU, threaten to abrogate the WA and go for a unilateral WTO – Minford’s argument is that there is no international policeman for such a treaty – this</i< government (with outright remainers like Hammond etc in the cabinet) and opposition, and remainer parliament, will – whether the WA is passed or not – steer us inevitably towards a gerrymandered referendum with no real leave option: voters will be so sick and tired by then (this appears to be the government's own policy) that they will vote to remain.

      The much-respected Martin Howe of course avers, as do you, that the WA+PD cannot be broken. But this is not about the Falklands, or Gibraltar, it is about our country and how we govern it. Of course we can repudiate such a disgusting treaty. We cannot head for WTO right now, because your governing party has reversed its manifesto promises and refused to replace its leaders. But as soon as we have a leader with the guts to threaten to do so (from whichever party) the EU would see the danger and hasten to agree a new Canada or Canada+.

      1. mancunius
        April 18, 2019

        Apols for rogue italics – that post should read:
        Reply to Reply – I agree with you about the import of the WA. But whereas a new future government and newly-elected majority brexit parliament could defy the EU, threaten to abrogate the WA and go for a unilateral WTO – Minford’s argument is that there is no international policeman for such a treaty – this government (with outright remainers like Hammond etc in the cabinet) and remainer opposition, and remainer parliament, will – whether the WA is passed or not – steer us inevitably towards a gerrymandered referendum with no real leave option: voters will be so sick and tired by then (this appears to be May’s policy) that they will vote to remain. The alternative would be like fighting WW2 with an appeaser PM trying to disarm our defences. There is only so much determination people will show in the face of weak and cowardly leadership.

        The much-respected Martin Howe of course avers, as do you, that the WA+PD cannot be broken. But this is not about the Falklands, or Gibraltar, it is about our country and how we govern it. Of course we can repudiate such a disgusting treaty. We cannot head for WTO right now, because your governing party has reversed its manifesto promises and refused to replace its leaders. But as soon as we have a leader with the guts to threaten to do so (from whichever party) the EU would see the danger and hasten to agree a new Canada or Canada+.

  58. a-tracy
    April 18, 2019

    Zoe Williams in the Guardian has provided an answer for Corbyn’s dilemma “The Party of European Socialists (PES) has the manifesto on which these elections will be fought, which Corbyn and Labour’s MEPs, as members, signed up to at the congress in Lisbon in December last year. Logically, the small group of pro-Brexit leftwingers doesn’t have any influence here: even if we were to leave aside the staunch and growing remain instincts of most Labour members and voters – though why should we? – the party has an overriding imperative. It must, in solidarity with its European socialist allies.”

    1. mancunius
      April 18, 2019

      ‘in solidarity with’ – Huh! ‘due to coercion by’ is nearer the truth. A perfect example of EU centralist politics.

  59. Geoff Amer
    April 18, 2019
  60. acorn
    April 18, 2019

    Can you imagine how pleased the EU Parliament will be if the UK sends Farage back there again! Can you imagine how pleased the Conservative Party will be if it gets more than 10% of the popular vote in the EU election! The latter won’t change anything at Westminster or Downing Street; so it can be a proxy referendum. If I were Mrs May and Mr Tusk, I would do anything to stop them EU elections.

    Except, who can be considered as “leavers and remainers” at EU election level? Political Betting is aggregating Tories, Farage’s Brexit party, UKIP and the DUP as “leavers”; Labour, the Lib Dems, Change UK, the SNP, PC and the Greens and the anti-Brexit Northern Irish parties, as “remainers”. We will see what the Swingometer comes up with in the early hours of the 27th May.

    District Council level elections may tell something different, voters tend to vote for the colour of the rosettes at this level. Alas, non-metropolitan district councils particularly, are way past their sell-by date. Practically everything they do is formula funded and dictated by Whitehall nowadays. They have very little discretionary spending capability. They need to be absorbed back into the Shire County structure as permanently managed operating divisions, democratically covered only by County Council level elected members.

  61. Charles Crane
    April 18, 2019

    Perhaps it is time for the ERG to resign the whip and joint the Brexit Party instead?

    Just asking…

  62. Lindsay McDougall
    April 18, 2019

    Mr Corbyn is asking for an unpopular Customs Union so that he can support an unpopular Withdrawal Agreement – unpopular in the country, not in this rotten parliament.

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