Tele column – 2nd March 2018

When Hunter S Thompson said “A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstances” he was undoubtedly talking about Jeremy Corbyn. When it comes to Labour’s position on Brexit it is fair to say, that just like regrets, they have had a few. Before the EU Referendum Labour policy was to support continued membership of the EU. They were a party split and amongst their ranks there were a few ‘Leave’ advocates including Gisela Stuart, Dennis Skinner and Kate Hoey but not Jeremy. However, after the EU Referendum Jeremy issued a three line whip for Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50. Ahead of the General Election their manifesto included an ambiguous commitment to the “benefits of the single market” rather than “membership of the single market.” After the General Election Senior Labour figures have expressed a variety of different views on Brexit. They include, negotiate access to the single market, but not membership (Corbyn). Retain single market membership during transition period (Starmer). Retain single market membership permanently (Watson). Then they declared being open to the possibility of a formal single market membership, but added, access is the most important issue (Corbyn again). Then the UK should prioritise full access of the single market (Corbyn, yes him again). Soon after the Sunday Herald reported that Ian Murray would bring a motion to Scottish Labour conference, calling on members to support the UK “remaining permanently in the European single market and customs union.” And at the time of going to press, Labour have declared their support for the UK being in a new, permanent customs union with the EU. They also expressed support for a “new and strong relationship with the single market”, but not membership. And that is definitely, finally Jeremy Corbyn’s position. But he is a man that once chaired the all-party parliamentary group on the campaign for nuclear disarmament and changed his mind to facilitate becoming leader of his party. As Groucho Marx once said “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”