• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Starmer’s bid against Brexit

ByBella Galloway

Sep 28, 2023
Image of keir starmer looking at the screen. it is a headshotMP Portraits Project in The Reasons Room.

Picture this: It is 2016 and there is a man making lofty declarations about ‘Brexit’ to a room of what might as well be men that look just like him. It is hard to believe that, 7 years later, we see he same scenario played out once again. Keir Starmer has decided to dig up the poorly laid grave of Brexit, apparently ‘Mak[ing] Brexit Work’, in order to give traction to his bid for Labour finally gaining a majority in the election next year.

I can’t think of a time that I have said political integrity, even honesty, in the same sentence as the current government – unfortunately, I think Starmer is adding fuel to that fire. Largely, his crusade for bringing Brexit back into political discourse seems like another promise in a long line of abandoned campaign tag lines that will ultimately come to nothing. To only name a few, union tuition fees, raising income tax for top earners, abolishing the House of Lords and public ownership of public services have all been swept under the rug. It seems that leadership- pledges, such as the promises listed above, are just fanciful declarations to abandon at the earliest opportunity. Starmer is scrambling to appeal to a mythical voter base that could redeem his chances at being PM next year. But he is fighting an uphill battle. If his recent visit to Paris, and the joint German-French paper on a ‘multi-speed Europe’ have told us anything, it’s that the EU is done with Britain.

Furthermore, Britain and wider Europe are still dealing with the shockwaves from the referendum 7 years ago, and the slew of nationalist sentiment that it brought up – need I remind you of the blatant anti-immigrant xenophobia that was rife at the time? There is no feasible way for Labour to follow through with meaningful moves towards the EU (beyond being an associate member) without potentially stepping into a minefield. Any whisper of ‘single market’ or ‘customs union’ would open them up to a barrage of accusations from the Conservatives and Brexiteers about betraying Brexit and the will of the people. Even then, any moves that he does make will not be nearly radical enough to secure the support of Remainers.

If we are all being completely honest, Starmer does not have the personal resolve or political base to reopen the Pandora’s Box which is Brexit in our current political climate: he is trying to start a fight that he can’t win. He should refocus his efforts on the relatively easy pickings of the Conservatives’ mishandling of the country, demonstrated emphatically by the cost-of-living crisis, which is more relevant and affecting millions of lives every day. Unless he wants to suffer the same fate as David Cameron, he should abandon his similar lofty, pragmatic promises about Brexit.
We have made our bed when it comes to this crisis. It is high time that we lie in it.

File:Official portrait of Keir Starmer crop 2.jpg” by Chris McAndrew is licensed under CC BY 3.0.