Many voters have been prepared to put their faith in a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Many of those do not want to see the UK leave the EU. So a serious newspaper telling them that, more or less, they’d been had was not going to elicit a positive reaction. And that is what the Guardian told them yesterday - backed up by sister Sunday title the Observer today. But the reality is somewhat less sensational.
Yesterday, readers were told “Jeremy Corbyn has defiantly restated Labour’s policy of leading Britain out of the European Union with a refashioned Brexit deal, shrugging off intense pressure from Labour MPs and activists for the party to throw its weight behind a second referendum”, but what Jezza said does not match that claim.
“You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be” was his message, which once again rules nothing out. Moreover, the Guardian concedes “Corbyn underlined the fact that he cannot set Labour’s policy unilaterally, saying: ‘I’m not a dictator of the party.’” He would vote down Theresa May’s deal. No change, film at 11.
And he reminded his interviewer that it was not his call, although he had a view of the subject: “it would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners”. His proposal. Not policy.
True, Corbyn is wary of EU state aid rules, but these, like so many EU rules, have flexibility and get-outs (the UK has never, for instance, demanded that all those foreign-built new trains should contain an amount of local content, such as being assembled here - EU competition rules allow for that). Discussion with other EU leaders would help him there.
Yet despite the content of the interview not standing up the headline - something which might have been expected by almost any other paper than the Guardian - the sister Observer has today doubled down, telling readers “Corbyn faces furious Labour backlash over Brexit support”. The giveaway, though, is in the sub-heading “Party ‘in danger of losing young backers’”. Having to use quote marks is not a good look.
Worse is this snippet: “Labour MPs who back Remain said they were planning to issue a statement within days insisting that the leadership must take its lead from members over Brexit”. What planet is the Obs on? The leadership HAS TO take its lead from members - perhaps someone didn’t read beyond the headline in the first (Guardian) article.
And those Labour MPs castigating Jezza are the usual suspects (hello Wes Streeting and Chuka Umunna), which should have set alarm bells ringing at King’s Place: having to resort to the anti-Corbyn awkward squad is a sure sign of desperation.
As Another Angry Voice has pointed out, “If you're incredibly generous to the Guardian you could try to argue that Corbyn saying that he'd take the logical step of going to Brussels to talk about … renegotiation is not entirely contradicted by the absolutist position blared out in the article headline, it's more of a distortion than an outright lie”.
Sad that the Guardian has to mislead in order to score sales and clicks. But in view of the paper’s recent flakiness on a variety of issues, not a surprise. Must do better, Ms Viner.
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