Ever since Corbyn whipped his party into backing the UKIP and Tory vision for an extreme Brexit in the Commons, critics have said that it has “been clear that he and May are singing from the same hymn sheet on Brexit”. But their alliance appears to have become even closer, with his spokespeople now repeating statements long associated with the most hard-line Brexiteers.
Rebecca Long-Bailey appeared this weekend on the Daily Politics, using lines like “have our cake and eat it” and “Brexit means Brexit”. She didn’t flinch when Andrew Neil pointed out she seemed to be on the same wavelength as Boris Johnson and instead simply mentioned again the only remaining difference between the Tory and Labour hard Brexit positions – the possibility of a no-deal departure.
— DailySunday Politics (@daily_politics) July 16, 2017
Corbyn’s front bench are now keeping in line with the Conservatives with the “have our cake and eat it” approach, which consists of asking the EU to let us leave the single market but keep all the benefits, and leave the customs union but keep all the benefits. A Labour critic said that “this is an unsurprising position for a man who made a reputation from opposing his own party but whose own opponents are being threatened with deselection and expulsion from the party”.
Corbyn’s woes may be deepening, however, with the adoption of these lines – EU officials described similar Tory policy as “deluded” and “living in another galaxy”. It is yet to be seen how the rhetoric will match up with policy, and how Labour will justify this to their base, who voted by over two-thirds to Remain.