Colette Browne: ‘Corbyn’s not up to the job of halting the Brexit death spiral consuming both Labour and Tories alike’

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Colette Browne: ‘Corbyn’s not up to the job of halting the Brexit death spiral consuming both Labour and Tories alike’


Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: PA
Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: PA

With the Tories fighting like rats in a sack over how to deliver Brexit, what the British people need is a political Pied Piper to chase them from government. Regrettably, what they are stuck with is a tone-deaf Jeremy Corbyn who prefers to stick his foot, and not a pipe, in his gob.

British politics is undergoing one of its biggest crises in generations but, instead of heroically rising to the occasion, its politicians are undergoing a collective meltdown.

Relations between different factions of the Tory party are so poisonous that last week two of its MPs, Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen and Theresa May loyalist James Cleverly, refused to stand beside each other during an interview.

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They loathe each other so much they can’t even share the same oxygen. There are toddlers in preschools all over the country who comport themselves with more dignity and decorum during playground spats.

As the Tories continue to scrap and brawl, having lost any semblance of reason and rationality, it is long past time the opposition stepped in to save the country from their bickering and indecision.

But, look across the chamber in the House of Commons and what you see is a Labour Party that is equally riven with rancour and led by a man so plodding and inarticulate that he has been unable to land a single punch on an almost fatally wounded prime minister.

The Labour Party has been invisible throughout this Brexit debacle – arguably, the biggest threat to Britain’s economy and democracy since World War II. Other than a few notable rebels, the party has added almost nothing to the debate and has no ideas on how to extricate the country from the quicksand it is submerging into.

The strategy of the Labour Party, as far as there is one, seems to be to sit back and watch the Tories eat themselves – and then, when they are done gorging and no one is left standing, to take over.

The only problem with this is that the Tories are also devouring the country’s prospects and prosperity in their internecine war.

Already, Brexit is costing the British people £500m (€556m) a week, with the economy estimated to be up to 2.5pc smaller than it would have been if the referendum result had been different.

Yesterday, we heard the UK government was finally pulling the trigger on its no-deal planning by splashing £2bn in contingency funding among different departments.

A large chunk of this money is being spent, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, by his department – not on the NHS or on homecare for elderly people, but on fridges.

The UK’s department of health is now the largest buyer of fridges in the world because they are urgently needed to stockpile medicines in the event of a no-deal calamity.

While cash is being spent with wild abandon on the folly that is Brexit, the UK is currently dealing with the biggest homelessness and housing crisis in its history.

There are at least 320,000 homeless people in Britain, including a staggering 170,000 in London alone. What do these people think about hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent on fridges instead of houses?

This is madness. Utter madness – and the Tories deserve to be hounded from office for at least 10 decades for overseeing this self-inflicted catastrophe.

But, compounding this tragedy, there is nobody in a leadership position within the Labour Party who is willing to shout that the emperor has no clothes – that Brexit is a disaster that will deliver only chaos and poverty.

On Monday, in the House of Commons, Mr Corbyn put in one of his more woeful appearances when he finally decided enough was enough – and opted to put down a motion of no confidence in Theresa May instead of the government.

He couldn’t even get that right, as the government had the power to refuse to give time to his motion, which it duly did.

So, his bold move ended up being another damp squib, resulting in egg being sprayed all over his face and Theresa May emerging unblemished.

Now deceased Labour MP Denis Healey famously quipped that debating with Tory MP Geoffrey Howe was like “being savaged by a dead sheep”. Mr Corbyn’s embarrassingly awful oratorical skills don’t even reach that ‘dead sheep’ threshold.

The perceived wisdom is that Mr Corbyn has been unable to take a definitive stance on Brexit because there are many Labour strongholds, especially in the north of the country, where large majorities voted for Brexit.

But how can Labour expect to change anyone’s mind if the party is not willing to be honest, about the dangers that Brexit poses, with those who support it?

Instead of telling Labour-voting Brexiteers that leaving the EU will make them poorer – to the tune of between £100bn to £140bn over the next 10 years – the party leadership is still propagating delusions of achieving a “Lexit”, a socialist Brexit, in which Corbynites sock it to the neoliberals running Europe and create a leftist nirvana.

Of course, absent from this rose-tinted analysis is any explanation of where Mr Corbyn will find the billions he wants to inject into services, infrastructure and housing when everything has been gobbled up by the insatiable money-monster that is Brexit.

In recent interviews, Mr Corbyn has insisted that if he were prime minister he would be able to march over to Brussels and demand a better deal than the one Mrs May managed to negotiate – one in which Britain was able to retain all of the benefits of EU membership and jettison all of the responsibilities, like free movement.

And he would do all of this before the March 29 deadline.

Clearly, this is a complete fantasy – but being unhinged from reality is now the norm, and not the exception, in British politics.

Depressingly, free movement, in which UK citizens have the right to live and work wherever they want in the EU, is still being depicted by those on the left in the Labour Party as a burden and not a benefit of EU membership.

While people like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Mr Corbyn desire Brexit for different reasons, it should alarm members of the Labour Party that they are on the same side of the argument as an aristocratic disaster capitalist.

With just three months left to go before Britain crashes out of the EU, real leadership is required to halt the death spiral that Labour and the Tories are both trapped in.

There is nothing to suggest Mr Corbyn can deliver it.

Irish Independent

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