As Theresa May staggered to the finish line of the last Parliamentary term, still in Downing Street but not really in power, the cry went up whenever the issue of Brexit was raised. Where was Jeremy Corbyn? Where was Labour’s solution to the impasse? The Tories had got us into this mess, but if Labour was to gain power, how would they figure a way out?
Those cries will only magnify, as Sky News has told today “British public opinion has shifted sharply against Brexit, according to a new Sky Data poll”. The headline points from that poll were all bad for the Tories and their Brexit strategy, such as it is.
“The government is haemorrhaging trust regarding the Brexit negotiations … Two-thirds of the public - including a majority of Leave voters - now think the outcome of Brexit negotiations will be bad for Britain … A significant increase in the proportion who think Brexit will negatively affect themselves personally, the economy and the country overall … Most people would like to see a referendum asking between the deal suggested by the government, no deal, and remaining in the EU”.
Theresa May, tone deaf to the end, was having none of it. “No second Brexit referendum will be held ‘in any circumstances’, Downing Street said after a Sky Data poll showed most people would like to see another vote on Britain's exit from the EU”.
So how can Jezza capitalise on this mess - and offer a way out? Corbyn supporter Paul Mason, on holiday but never far from Twitter, has an insight into how that might happen.
“As I said after the Chequers deal collapsed, Labour should now embrace Norway+ and offer a second referendum on the deal done: deal or Remain only on ballot paper”. Why so? “150 Labour CLPs debating 2nd Vote resolution - has to be discussed at Labour conference - front bench must take ownership of this new mood”. That’s why. The number will only have grown by the time Conference comes round.
How does he see that opportunity unfolding? “The sequence is: defeat May deal in Commons; force election & campaign on promise (not leaving open) a 2nd vote; negotiate Norway+ deal and put that deal vs Remain to a 2nd Referendum”.
OK, but why no “No Deal”? “And to summarise why my position is changed: collapse of Chequers deal leaves Tory hard Brexiteers in position of: ‘We tried, we failed’. Electorate can see that, hence Sky poll finds moral authority of May. and positivity about Brexit, collapsing”. Also, the reality of “No Deal” meaning “Cliff Edge” is coming clear.
And as to where Mason was coming from here, he had one warning. “Finally my Tory chums. Try saying the words ‘stockpile food’ to a mum hanging around the out-of-date shelf at Tesco at 5pm, waiting to see if she's going to feed her kids tonight. If it all goes to shit, that's the moral authority of your party gone for a generation”.
Remember Galbraith’s definition of leadership: “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was their willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership”.
Theresa May’s leadership is non-existent. Time for Jezza to step up to the plate.