The Midsomer Norton & Radstock Journal, 4th October 2018

At the Labour Party Conference there was much confusion about Brexit. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that remaining in the EU is not an option. Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said, “Nobody is ruling out Remain as an option.” He also said, “I do not think anybody at this stage is talking about extending Article 50.” Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, then said, “We need to extend Article 50.”

However, there were many calls for a General Election, the implication being that Labour would manage Brexit better than the Conservatives are currently doing. The probability of an election in the near future is small but it is worth considering what type of Brexit, if any, we might get if Labour was in charge.

Labour’s current policy is that the final Brexit deal must meet six tests to gain its approval. Particularly relevant is the second test, which asks: ‘Does it deliver the “exact same benefits" as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?’ Now let us be clear. The only way to have these “exact same benefits" is for the UK to remain a member of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

If the UK did wish to remain a member of the Single Market and Customs Union, this would mean that, under EU rules, we would have to continue to accept free movement of people, continue to pay money to the European Union and continue to abide by EU regulations. We would therefore not be solving any of the issues that caused 17.4 million people to vote for Brexit in the first place. In addition, we would be worse off than before the referendum, as very little would change except that we would become a rule-taker, with basically no say in what goes on, rather than having Members of the European Parliament as we do at the moment. This is BRINO, Brexit In Name Only and would be a complete waste of time. However, this is the only way that Labour could meet its six tests.

It is clear that the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals will not meet the six tests and that Labour will vote against them. My colleagues in the European Research Group and I will also vote against them, as Chequers leaves us tied to the EU, so is not Brexit. I cannot, therefore, see any possibility of Chequers getting through Parliament.

My proposed alternative is ‘Super Canada’, a free-trade deal based on the agreement with Canada but with improvements and additions. ‘No deal’, or trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, is nothing to be frightened of. However, ‘Super Canada’ is the only viable alternative.

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