The Case for a Pro-EU Labour Leadership Candidate

  1. The Labour party never agreed with the idea of using a referendum to decide this issue. The party’s position was that a referendum should only be called in the case of a “significant transfer of powers from the UK to the EU”, something that was never on the cards.
  2. Remaining in the EU is the position the Labour party adopted prior to the result of a very close referendum. Given the economic events since the result and the disintegration of the Vote Leave political groupings, the arguments for Remain put forward during the campaign look better now than they did a few weeks ago.
  3. 48% of the UK public voted for remaining in the EU and they deserve to have at least one major political party putting forward their position.
  4. A large fraction of the other 52% that voted Leave are gradually finding out that the “have your cake and eat it” position put forward by Boris Johnson and others was hugely misleading.
  1. As events gradually reveal the “cake-and-eat-it” promises made by Johnson and Farage were hugely misleading, support for Leave will fall.
  2. Some centrist Tory or Lib Dem voters may get behind a non-Corbynite pro-EU Labour party.
  3. Most who vote in general elections are not “single issue” voters. The same electorate that voted to Leave recently elected a parliament that whose membership is substantially in favour of remaining in the EU. Some Labour supporters that voted Leave may switch to the Tories or UKIP but many could not consider doing this because of the many Tory policies that they consider abhorrent. Some may have voted Leave in hope of a socialist nirvana outside the EU but when that’s not on offer in a general election, it’s unlikely these people vote Tory. Other Labour supporters may have voted Leave imagining this would stop immigration but after reality dawns that none of the Brexit options on the table would do much to control immigration, these people might not be so keen to vote Tory.

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Professor of Economics at University College Dublin.

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Karl Whelan

Karl Whelan

Professor of Economics at University College Dublin.

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