American Media Divide Generations, Labour Attempts to Divide Conservatives
Just when Britain’s Conservatives were getting their act together — twenty months after the country voted for Brexit — Labour has thrown a wrench in the works.
Sebastian Payne writes in the Financial Times that by supporting a continued customs union with the EU, Labour is testing the loyalty of those Conservatives for whom a Canadian-style trade agreement with the bloc falls short.
Labour has consistently stood back and allowed the Conservatives to set out a position and then nudged or fudged its own policy to somewhere slightly softer, but without alienating its own “leavers”. Mr Corbyn is still an unreformed left-wing, quiet supporter of Brexit, but this is about beating the government.
Conservatives who opposed Brexit will also be disappointed by the reality of a “Canada plus” deal. The EU has consistently warned that there can be no cherry-picking. The United Kingdom must be either in or out. Read more
Brexiteers Disparage Good Friday Agreement, Berlusconi Hints at Tajani Premiership
Politico reports that Brexiteers have launched a broadside against the agreement that has kept the peace in Northern Ireland for twenty years.
Former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson and Labour “leaver” Kate Hoey believe the Good Friday Agreement has “outlived its use.” Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European Parliament, argues the agreement has “failed”. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent backbencher, disputes that Brexit puts the peace at risk.
The timing is awkward. Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government for thirteen months. Although Brexit isn’t the main issue separating pro-British unionists and pro-Irish nationalists, it does factor into the parties’ calculations given that the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) supports Theresa May’s government in Westminster.
The problem is that the Conservatives have committed to both take the United Kingdom out of the EU customs union and single market and protect the Good Friday Agreement as well as the all-island economy in Ireland. Those goals are incompatible so long as Ireland does stay in the EU.
A solution would be for Britain to remain in the single market, like Norway, or in the customs union, like Turkey, but that is unacceptable to hardlines. Read more
The Sun reports that, as a freshman parliamentarian, Jeremy Corbyn was targeted for recruitment by the Czech secret police in 1986 and met at least three times with an intelligence officer posing as a diplomat.
Corbyn says he never knowingly consorted with an East Bloc agent, but John Schindler, an intelligence expert, points out that only one year before the Labour politician was approached, Britain had expelled 25 Soviet “diplomats” who were really KGB officers “and the high-profile case got nonstop coverage in the British media.”
For Corbyn not to have considered the possibility he might be meeting with a spy would have been incredibly naive.
Moreover, Czech human rights abuses under communism were well-known even at the time. What was Corbyn thinking?
Corbyn, I’m sure, will argue it’s important to hear both sides. That’s what he said when he was asked to defend inviting Hamas and Hezbollah representatives to London in 2009. Except he never invited or met with Israeli representatives, just as he didn’t seek meetings with American officials during the Cold War.
Corbyn has a long history of instinctively siding with enemies of his country and the West, from Irish republican terrorists to Fidel Castro to Hugo Chávez to Muammar Gaddafi. Michael J. Totten wrote a good overview in The Atlantic last year. That’s what makes the Czech spy story, despite coming from the notoriously sensationalist The Sun, so believable. Read more
Brexiteers Without a Plan, Republican Big Spenders and Competitor to NATO
Politico reports that American businesses are unconvinced by Theresa May’s post-Brexit vision. She has promised to turn the island into a “beacon for technology and innovation,” but a lack of detail about what kind of country the United Kingdom wants to be once it leaves the EU is hurting her case.
Janan Ganesh calls on Brexiteers to provide such detail:
Voters are being urged to brave a hard exit that would tug at the seams of the kingdom, disrupt the economic life of the Irish republic and risk some material cost to themselves. The least they should expect in return is an impressionistic picture of Britain’s post-EU economic model from the people who are keenest on the idea. Instead, they have to make do with generalities about sovereignty.
There are two possible explanations:
Twenty months after winning the referendum, Brexiteers still have not through through the consequences of leaving the EU.
They fear the popular reaction to proposals for dramatic liberalization.
Britain is already one of the most lightly-regulated, low-taxed economies in Europe. A post-Brexit backlash to attempts to transform it into Singapore-on-Thames might put the Labour Party back in power. Read more
Politico reports that Britain’s exit from the European Union is already taking a toll on its international clout:
EU allies, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, abstained in June from a United Nations vote on the Chagos Islands, a British territory in the Indian Ocean that houses the Diego Garcia military base and is also claimed by Mauritius. The question of sovereignty has been referred to the International Court of Justice.
In November, Britain was forced to withdraw its candidate to fill a vacancy on the same court when it became clear it would lose a UN vote.
British diplomats are increasingly ignored in international forums. Read more