What would a Labour Brexit look like?

Some Remainers are upset at Jeremy Corbyn again, after he apparently ruled out staying in the single market after Brexit. Many have taken umbrage at his claim that single market membership is intrinsically linked to EU membership, pointing to the EFTA countries Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland as counterexamples.

But Corbyn is technically correct to say that the single market is not a club that can be joined. You can of course loosely say that the likes of Norway and Switzerland are "in" the single market, but their high level of access comes through the EEA agreement and bilateral treaties respectively, which include exceptions such as agriculture and fisheries. It's not a binary distinction by any means.

Rather than argue semantics, a more fruitful exercise is to analyse what Labour would actually hope to achieve if they were in charge of Brexit negotiations. As with the Conservatives, it is clear enough if you take at face value what they say they want …

The Ukrainian Gambit

In the phase 1 Brexit agreement, the UK has made a commitment to keep the Irish border open in all circumstances:

The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom's intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

Many commentators have interpreted this to mean that the only destination now possible in phase 2 is a so-called soft Brexit, where to all intents and purposes t…

There are no good arguments against votes at 16

As someone who was denied the chance to vote in a parliamentary election until I was 21, it might not surprise you that I have every sympathy with 16 and 17 year olds who were similarly denied a chance to vote this year. It was a shame, then, that Jim McMahon's bill to reduce the voting age was not brought to a vote on Friday, and dismaying to discover that there are still plenty of opponents of votes at 16 out there, throwing out the usual tired arguments against change.

Most of these arguments tend towards abstract musings on the nature of adulthood, aka "why should we trust 16 year olds with a vote if we don't trust them with a pint?". Which itself raises the question of exactly what kind of damage they are expecting 16 year olds to do with their ballot paper. Give themselves a papercut? The intention of restricting things like alcohol, gambling, smoking, tanning salons, etc. to 18 is clearly to protect children from potentially harming themselves or others. No su…

Why a new "centrist" party would probably fail

It's been heartening to see that the softening of Labour's Brexit position over the summer has not led to a decline in its polling figures, and may even be driving them up a little. Labour's change was apparently motivated at least in part by the fear that a new "centrist" party would emerge that would hurt them more than the Tories. Certainly, there's been much talk recently of such a party, despite or perhaps because of the lacklustre performance of the existing centrist party, the Lib Dems, in the snap election.

The belief that a new centrist party would sweep all before it is based on the idea that if Labour moves left while the Tories move right, a great yawning gap of homeless voters will appear in the middle. Assuming voters are normally distributed across the political spectrum, the picture looks something like this:

Which is fine as far as it goes, but the label "centrist" bugs me, both as a tag for the potential new party and in its other …

Life in Remainville: Episode 3, A New Hope

So it turns out the method of counting window posters is scientific, with Jeff Smith crushing all before him:

Life in Remainville: Smith vs Leech revisited

In case you were thinking the main contenders had gone quiet, I can assure you that our hallway carpet continues to be submerged in red and yellow leaflets. We've received a CV from John Leech, a personal letter from Jeff Smith, an even more personal psuedo-handwritten letter from the Manchester Mum of the Year describing how Leech helped her child get medical treatment, two reminders to vote on Thursday, and more besides. But rather than attempt to scan all that lot in I'll just share the two which best summarise their respective campaigns.

Here's Smith's effort, complete with endorsement from Big Andy and a number of references to police cuts (a growing theme in the Labour material):

 (Top prize for misleading stat there with the 93% line)

And here is Leech, no longer featuring photos of Corbyn but abstract references to infighting instead.

(I'm still trying to understand the logic of the "more spending, more taxes, no plan to pay for it" critique)

The …

Life in Remainville: attack of the nasty old also-rans

Pantomime villain Sarah Heald finally appears in leaflet form:

One of the most content-free leaflets I've ever seen, though don't worry because Team May is here to explain all...

I guess this leaflet was produced back when standing with Theresa May was considered to be an advantage, maybe not so much now. Everything else about it has a distinctly phoned-in quality, not least that the designer couldn't even be bothered to replace "MY CANDIDATE" with the actual name of the candidate.

Even if the Tories do end up with a 100+ majority after all, I will at least take solace that Her Candidate is not going to Westminster.