Labour’s new position?

Has anything actually changed?

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Has Labour's position on Brexit changed?

By Joe Harker

Labour might finally have adopted a new position on Brexit. After much wrangling they have come up with a new offering they hope will win back voters who have left the party.

Their hope is to bring an end to months of speculation and disappointment by being clearer on their policy towards leaving the EU, something the party has been criticised over for a long time.

So, is their position a much welcome moment of clarity to win back the voters, or is it yet more obfuscation that makes doubters all the more likely to turn away?

The Claim:

The BBC reports that Labour's new position is to press the new prime minister into holding a referendum on any deal or an attempt to push through a no deal Brexit.

In this scenario Labour would campaign for Remain, be it against a no deal Brexit or a Conservative secured withdrawal agreement.

However, there exists a backup plan for a second scenario where a general election is held. Labour would hope to win it, entering government, at which point they would attempt to negotiate their own Brexit deal and decide whether to hold a referendum on that at a later date.

Got that? Make the next PM put any Brexit to a referendum, in the event of an election that puts them in power try to do a new deal and consider putting it to a referendum.

It appears to be a more pro-Remain stance than before, with the party's first priority to force the government to hold a referendum where they would campaign to Remain. This is something the membership and many MPs have been wanting for months.

The Counter Claim:

Hold on though, Labour also wants to hold a vote of no confidence in the new government which would lead to either a new government being formed or a general election.

If the party gets what it wants then it would be assuming the reins of government rather than pushing for a referendum, at which point Labour would be trying to do a Brexit deal.

Backing a soft Brexit deal and holding out for a compromise was an out of date strategy months ago, Labour's current stance bears much resemblance to the one they have been championing since the start of the year.

This new policy is still their "pursue an election and do Brexit ourselves, if not go for a referendum" strategy that caused so much dismay months ago. It's the same strategy repackaged up as something new.

Even if the party does genuinely push for another referendum it may be a case of "too little, too late" as Leave and Remain supporters have abandoned Labour in droves and this "new" strategy still doesn't decisively come down on one side.

The Facts:

It's too weak for Remainers when the Liberal Democrats and Greens are offering unambiguous support for Remain while Leavers have gravitated towards Hard Brexit, offered by the Brexit Party and the next Conservative prime minister.

As long as Labour's Brexit policy stays ambiguous and conditional there will always be a major party offering something more suitable to the desires of the electorate. The debate has become so polarised that offering a compromise Brexit option isn't really a tenable position any longer.

The party's position hasn't really changed, this supposed new deal is the same old policy repackaged and slightly reshuffled.

The chain of events that would occur if Labour got their way would result in a general election where they get into power, at which point their "new" Brexit policy states they would try to negotiate their own deal. Are Labour really aiming to get to a point where they have to choose whether they will hold a referendum and campaign a deal they themselves secured?

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