David Miliband has decided to re-enter the world of politics in order to advocate for a soft Brexit but he may prove to be a thorn-in-the-side for Jeremy Corbyn.
The former Labour Foreign Secretary has today launched a new cross-party campaign with former Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Nick Clegg and former Tory Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. The aim of the campaign is to “soften the exit terms” and to shift the Labour Party’s stance on Brexit. Mr Miliband said that the Labour Party threatened punishing its own natural supporters by advocating for Brexit.
Hard Brexit is holding Britain to ransom. And it didn’t need to be this way. Time for change of course before it is too late. https://t.co/Z2cUk14kvw
— David Miliband (@DMiliband) May 13, 2018
Mr Miliband, who has decided to return from running his UN-led charity in New York, fired a shot at Mr Corbyn at a press conference:
“The warning for Jeremy Corbyn is that, if he is not very careful, he will be the midwife of a hard Brexit that threatens the living standards of the very people that he says he wants to represent.”
The push by these former rulers of Britain’s political class is to ensure that Britain remains within some form of the European Economic Area and remain as close as possible to the European Single Market; in other words, Brexit in name only.
It is argued by those who won the Brexit referendum in June 2016, that such a decision would render the vote as obsolete, as the UK would continue to be tied to the EU but would have no say on the rules and would lack the ability to look towards trading partners outside Europe.
The Labour Party have had a confused stance when it comes to Brexit. Mr Corbyn, although campaigning for ‘Remain’ in the referendum debate, has historically held Eurosceptic views and many of the grassroots supporters in his party shares these views. His time as leader of the party has been defined by trying to reconcile his own historic views and the more Europhile views held by his colleagues. Such a gaping schism in his party has created confusion on how they will negotiate our future relationship.
This issue has further solidified in recent weeks with the recent local elections indicating that the Labour Party is struggling to gain traction in areas across the country that voted to leave.
At this point in time, Labour is opposed to remaining in the European Economic Area, while vowing to negotiate a “strong single market relationship that hardwires the benefits”. But Mr Corbyn fundamentally struggles when it comes to explaining how that will be possible outside the trading bloc.
Mr Miliband’s decision to return to the UK and re-enter the political fray represents a hard reality for Mr Corbyn as he faces the possibility of open warfare within his own party.
Mr Corbyn now risks political survival unless he can take a stronger stance in this debate. He must reconcile the different sides and this can only occur by making a clear and concise case for one of them. He can either follow his own historic views and advocate for the leave that people voted for, or he can surrender to former political stars, still scarred by their loss in 2016. Whatever he decides, he must make a choice.