Budapest Post

Cum Deo pro Patria et Libertate
Budapest, Europe and world news

Will UK Labour’s Brexit gamble pay off?

Will UK Labour’s Brexit gamble pay off?

Former Remain-backing Labour figures are vowing to let voters ‘take back control’ — but is anyone convinced?
All the current British opinion polls suggest the opposition Labour Party is heading for government at the next election. So will its bid to don Brexiteer clothes convince the public?

As it heads for power, Labour’s most senior politicians have certainly seemed comfortable stealing the words of conservative heroes.

Speaking at an event last week, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves — who could very well be managing the U.K. economy after the next election — began by channeling Ronald Reagan as she asked people if they were “better off than they were 13 years ago,” while Keir Starmer co-opted a phrase from his old foe Boris Johnson.

The Labour leader promised to deliver a post-Brexit “take back control” bill if elected as PM, vowing greater devolution over areas including skills, housing and transport.

Starmer happily freewheeled on Brexit during his first speech of 2023 as he claimed to understand the anger behind the result, while praising Brexit campaign group Vote Leave’s signature slogan.

Just a year ago, Starmer would seemingly do everything to avoid talking about the EU, as Labour struggled to move past its 2019 policy of calling for a second referendum. Now, Starmer is trying to own Brexit as a political issue and turn it into an electoral advantage.

“It’s very smart politics,” one Labour shadow minister said.

“He’s not shrinking away from his role in campaigning for Remain, as we saw in the New Year’s speech, and is now turning the Vote Leave slogan on its head,” they argued.

Matthew Elliott, former chief executive of the official Vote Leave campaign, told POLITICO that his initial reaction upon hearing Starmer’s speech was that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

“We shouldn’t be too protective about these sorts of things,” he said.

With support for Brexit somewhat wavering in the polls, as its economic impacts begin to bite, Starmer now sees an opportunity to become its unlikely savior. He can stand at the House of Commons despatch box and say the Conservatives have failed to make the project a success and that only a new broom can fix some of its flaws.

It’s an area where Starmer’s ruthless pragmatism and technocratic nature could yield tangible results. Yet it would first require Leave voters to believe the arch-Remainer has had a Damascene conversion to the cause. Furthermore, it is questionable whether disgruntled ex-Labour supporters voted to leave the EU because they wanted local governments to have more power.

The beauty of “take back control” as a slogan was that it could mean everything to everybody. It packaged up people’s wide-ranging grievances with the state of the country and directed them at the EU. Put simply: it was a vibe, not a coherent ideology.

There is a danger for Starmer that he is taking the issue too literally and seeing it as a lawyer (he used to be the U.K.’s top public prosecutor), not a politician. Elliott, who still works as a political strategist, said he is unconvinced that Starmer can now sell himself as a neo-Brexiteer.

“Starmer first emerged in public life as the shadow minister trying to stop Brexit,” he said. “I don’t think Starmer will be trusted by the Red Wall voters to deliver any benefits of Brexit or to show he really believes what he’s saying.”

“I also still run a lot of opinion polling and reforming local government certainly doesn’t come up in the top 10 things of what people want.”

Starmer is unlikely to ever win over the most hardcore Brexiteers. Yet there is a chunk of the electorate that may give him a hearing. A YouGov poll from last November revealed 19 per cent of Leave voters regret their decision, with many complaining that “things are worse since Brexit.”

This will give Labour the freedom to speak about problems caused by leaving the EU, such as increased red tape for businesses, without fear of inevitable Tory attacks that accuse the party of being in thrall to Brussels.

“It’s really about being positive and proactive in selling the ‘take back control’ policy and showing the country that we have a very positive view of the future. That includes Brexit and the many facets of post-Brexit policy,” a senior Labour official said.

Johnson’s defenestration will also give Labour political space to attack the Tories on Brexit. It was impossible for Starmer to out-Brexit the campaign’s frontman and Johnson was also adept at battering Starmer with his previous Remainer record.

The Labour leader will fancy his chances more against current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who is not publicly linked with the vote — despite backing Leave as a junior MP in 2016.
Newsletter

Related Articles

0:00
0:00
Close
Ukraine Arrests Father-Son Duo In Lockbit Cybercrime Bust
US Offers $15 Million For Info On Leaders Of Cybercrime Group Lockbit
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
Alexei Navalny: UK sanctions Russian prison chiefs after activist's death
German economy is in 'troubled waters' - ministry
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Tucker Carlson says Boris Johnson wants "a million dollars, in Bitcoin or cash, from Tucker Carlson to talk about Ukraine.
Russia is rebuilding capacity to destabilize European countries, new UK report warns
EU Commission wants anti-drone defenses at Brussels HQ
Von der Leyen’s 2nd-term pitch: More military might, less climate talk
EU Investigates TikTok for Child Safety Concerns
EU Launches Probe Into TikTok Over Child Protection Under Digital Content Law
EU and UK Announce Joint Effort on Migration
Ministers Confirm Proposal to Prohibit Mobile Phone Usage in English Schools
Avdiivka - Symbol Of Ukrainian Resistance Now In Control Of Russian Troops
"Historic Step": Zelensky Signs Security Pact With Germany
"Historic Step": Zelensky Signs Security Pact With Germany
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
Tucker Carlson grocery shopping in Russia. This is so interesting.
France and Germany Struggle to Align on European Defense Strategy
‘A lot higher than we expected’: Russian arms production worries Europe’s war planners
Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Rights
Russia "Very Close" To Creating Cancer Vaccines, Says Vladimir Putin
Hungarian Foreign Minister: Europeans will lose Europe, the Union's policy must change drastically
Microsoft says it caught hackers from China, Russia and Iran using its AI tools
US Rejects Putin's Ceasefire Offer in Ukraine
The Dangers of Wildfire Smoke and Self-Protection Strategies
A Londoner has been arrested for expressing his Christian beliefs.
Chinese Women Favor AI Boyfriends Over Humans
Greece must address role in migrant vessel disaster that killed 600: Amnesty
Google pledges 25 million euros to boost AI skills in Europe
Hungarian President Katalin Novák Steps Down Amid Pardon Controversy
Activist crashes Hillary Clinton's speech, calls her a 'war criminal.'
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Trudeau reacts to Putin's mention of Canadian Parliament applauding a former Ukrainian Nazi in his interview with Tucker Carlson.
The Spanish police blocked the farmers protest. So the farmers went out and moved the police car out of the way.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy fires top Ukraine army commander
Tucker Carlson's interview with Vladimir Putin raises EU concerns
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
Russia's Economy Expands by 3.6% Due to Increased Military Spending
Ukraine MPs Vote To Permit Use Of Dead Soldiers' Sperm
German Princess Becomes First Aristocrat To Pose Naked On Playboy Cover
UK’s King Charles III diagnosed with cancer
EU's Ursula von der Leyen Confronts Farmer Protests Amid Land Policy Debates
Distinguishing Between Harmful AI Media and Positive AI-Generated Content: A Crucial Challenge for the EU
Tucker Carlson explains why he interviewed Putin
Dutch farmers are still protesting in the Netherlands against the government, following the World Economic Forum's call for 'owning nothing.'
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stands up for European farmers and says, 'Brussels is suffocating European farmers.
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
French farmers are not messing around.
×