After last Saturday’s march in London, and the inexorable progress of the petition on the Government website seeking revocation of Article 50 - now on around 5.7 million signatures - this blog suggested that those voices who had spoken out against the madness that is Brexit should not merely be dismissed because they were not Labour, or were not perceived as sufficiently loyal to Jeremy Corbyn.
As a result, some commenters proved my point by wheeling out their scorecards, telling forcefully what wrongs those I had mentioned had perpetrated, and how they should not be touched even with the longest available bargepole. Well, freedom of speech and opinion, and all that, but Jezza has himself reached out to others of late.
This has resulted in last night’s votes in the Commons, where around 30 Tory rebels, Oliver Letwin being their de facto leader, joined Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems in voting against the Government. Three ministers resigned in order to join that rebellion. The vote ensures the Commons, not the Government, takes control of the Parliamentary timetable - it’s out of the hands of the hapless Theresa May. The impasse is broken.
Typical of the enthusiasm at Ms May having her hands prised off the levers of power has been that from campaigner Sue Marsh: “Oliver Letwin and Jeremy Corbyn have been a de-facto National Gov for about a month. They're pretty much who we'd have if May had EVER done the right thing … Yesterday just confirmed it. (H/Ts also Cooper, Boles, Grieve, Bryant)”. Credit where credit’s due, Labour or Tory. And there was more.
“On Wednesday, these people will become the Executive … We should be hugging both of them [Letwin and Corbyn], it was no mean feat … While Letwin convinced the Tory rebels in the UK now really was the last chance, Corbyn went to the EU repeatedly, and came away convinced he had their support for a Letwin or Corbyn compromise. No Letwin could do that, only the leader of HMO. It appears he did, and did it well”.
Indeed, Jezza paid tribute to Letwin in the Commons, telling “I pay tribute to the Honourable Member for West Dorset [Letwin] and the Member for Leeds Central [Hilary Benn] and others who have worked to achieve tonight’s result”. Jeremy Corbyn is prepared to reach out and give credit. Also, as this is about Brexit, just one more thing.
As David Allen Green has said in response to someone admitting they made a mistake in voting Leave, and being abused for saying so, “Save your scorn for Leave politicians and pundits. Turning Leave voters should be given huge respect. Takes a lot to admit such a mistake”. Now is the time to also reach out to Leavers who are having second thoughts.
There is a limit to what can be achieved by refusing to engage with those who may not be of the same political stripe, not as ideologically pure and unyielding. As the Brexit débâcle is brought under some kind of control, and reality returns to the Commons, there will be more reaching out. And more Leave voters to give respect as they rethink.
We still face a time of crisis, worse than anything since 1945. So narrow ideology must still be set aside. That’s not just my view, but that of Jeremy Corbyn too. That is all.
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