As someone who profoundly believes the UK should remain in the EU, I may be expected to join the condemnation of Labour’s latest intervention on Brexit as merely postponing the cliff edge. The Liberal Democrats are not completely unjustified in saying that the difference between Conservative and Labour positions is time rather than content in theory – but Labour’s newly stated position will be more significant than that.
Firstly, there is the obvious issue of parliamentary arithmetic. The practical Conservative-DUP majority is 11, and there are already enough Anna Soubrys to make that rather closer still on EU issues.
Secondly, there is the politics. There are already red lights flashing over the UK economy (notably around credit), and now Sterling is being hit again by the lack of certainty in the Brexit outcome fully 14 months on from the referendum. A collapsing economy will not win you an election particularly when you have already headed the government all decade and there is clearly no one else to blame for the economic and trade policy pursued.
So this is the issue. With the economy in decline and Labour stating clearly that it could be reinvigorated by taking a stance that the UK should still be in the Single Market on 1 April 2019, it becomes an incredible political risk not to see to it that it is. That is why the intervention is so relevant.