Owen Smith yesterday admitted he thought Britain could “potentially” re-join not only the EU, but also the Euro despite Brexit, if he were to become Prime Minister.
Speaking plainly, Smith told Andrew Marr, “I want us to be part of the European Union”, then argued Labour should go into the General Election in 2020 promising to keep Britain in the EU, if it were still an option. Unfortunately for Smith, as Andrew Marr pointed out, if Theresa May triggers Article 50 next year as intended, then by 2020 Britain will have already left Europe for good. Continue reading
For over 45 years, and based on my early involvement with the issue in the Foreign Office, I have contested the issue of Britain’s membership of what was the Common Market and then grew into the EU, and I have always been on the losing side. It could be argued that my own political career, and my bid to lead the Labour Party, were adversely affected by what was often seen as an odd aberration. I argued over this whole period that the EU is not Europe and that the actual and very particular arrangement we were offered was not only inimical to Britain’s interests but was not the way to build a better and more lasting European cooperation and identity. Continue reading
Back in 1975 I did not just oppose membership of the EU, I actively campaigned against it. In the 1990s I strongly opposed Britain’s membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). My opposition to the Labour leadership’s support for ERM helped ensure that I did not get chosen as Parliamentary candidate at the time. I won a modest 6 votes at a General Committee Meeting that in 1991 selected the next MP for Dulwich and West Norwood! (While I was to be vindicated by Britain’s eviction from the ERM in September 1992 that was no comfort as Labour, having backed the ERM, was unable to capitalize on the huge political damage caused to the Conservatives by the Black Wednesday fiasco.) Continue reading
As the EU referendum battle gets nasty and Tory tears lumps out of Tory, spare a thought for the chancellor and the London mayor. At times these last six months, both men have had reason to believe their careers are sloping upwards. Number 10 has conceivably been in reach, but their grip on political gravity has loosened and its possible their rise will be accompanied by a death plunge. And now, threatening to hasten their fall has appeared Theresa May, the one oft-overlooked as Osborne and Johnson tussle for the prize.
Her intervention on Tuesday in the EU debate was pretty disgusting. Far from lecturing her party on its nastiness, May scraped up the foul-smelling discards of her “celebrated” 2002 conference speech and tried transmuting them into political gold. And, unfortunately – talking about it with @catherinebuca last night – it could just work. She trotted out the basic argument that leaving the EU would weaken the British economy, which is Remain’s strongest suit. Sticking with the economic theme, she passed directly over into the crudest economism and said the European Convention on Human Rights “adds nothing to our prosperity.” Continue reading
Last week Tony Blair professed bafflement at the rise – on both sides of the Atlantic – of popular movements by people who in Blair’s view choose to “rattle the cage”. I think this is a mischaracterisation. Those who have been energised into supporting Sanders, Corbyn and movements such as Podemos and Syriza want to break the cage, ending the failed policies that continue to dominate and distort so much of our national discourse. What these movements represent is a desire and hope for something better. I don’t think that is baffling at all. Continue reading