The UK is in a serious crisis as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms and all its political leaders – including Jeremy Corbyn – must work together to find a solution.
Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right when he says a no-deal Brexit should be ruled out. It is too dangerous a prospect even to try to use as part of the UK Government’s negotiating strategy, whether with Brussels or MPs.
However, the Labour leader is absolutely wrong in his refusal to meet Theresa May until she does so.
Instead, Corbyn should immediately enter talks with the Prime Minister with that main aim in mind. If he manages to find a way to prevent a no-deal Brexit, he will have done his country a considerable service, saving the jobs and livelihoods of people across the country.
Of course, May is the one who is currently in charge and she might be able to claim the credit, but the time for seeking political victories is over. The UK is in a deep and serious crisis and urgently needs everyone to work in the national interest.
In his letter to May yesterday, Corbyn correctly described a no-deal Brexit as “disastrous”, but he then claimed that “entering into talks while the clock continues to run down, and the threat of a chaotic ‘no deal’ increases, would be a reckless leap in the dark”.
Talking about preventing a disaster is not reckless; not talking about preventing a disaster is idiotically reckless.
In her letter of reply, May made an error of logic when she argued that ruling out a no-deal was an “impossible condition because it is not within the Government’s power”.
She said there were two ways to avoid a no-deal: for MPs to vote for a deal that had been agreed with the EU – meaning her deal, the one that suffered the biggest Commons defeat for a Government bill in modern history – or for Article 50 to be revoked and the result of the 2016 referendum overturned.
“I believe it would be wrong to overturn the referendum result,” she added. So it’s not “impossible” to prevent a no-deal, it’s simply contrary to a belief held by May.
Postponing the date of Brexit would not overturn the 2016 referendum result, but it would allow more time and mean Britain was not railroaded into a Withdrawal Agreement that even some of the most ardent Brexiteeers say would be worse than remaining in the EU.
It would allow a second referendum to be held, in which the people of Britain could decide whether no-deal is better than May’s bad one or if it’s time to call the whole thing off and remain in the European Union.