Jeremy Corbyn MUST decide on a Brexit deal with PM or a second referendum — our future rests in his hands

Jeremy Corbyn MUST decide on a Brexit deal with PM or a second referendum — our future rests in his hands

BREXIT’S fate rests in Jeremy Corbyn’s hands. Will he do a deal with Theresa May, or will he go for a second referendum?
If Britain is not out of the European Union by September, Labour’s Conference (which takes place that month) will impose on Corbyn a policy of backing a second referendum in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Jeremy Corbyn must now decide on his next course of action as Brexit rests in his hands, writes James Forsyth
Whatever Corbyn’s reservations about a second vote, he won’t be able to resist the fervently pro-Remain membership.
So, what will he do between now and then? There are two routes available to the Labour leader.
He could decide that, given Conference will impose the policy on him anyway, he may as well embrace it.
This would ensure Labour does well in the European Parliament elections next month as it scoops up the votes of energised Remainers, while the Tories have lumps taken out of their support by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Ukip.
Such an approach would also deny Change UK, the party set up by Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, the foothold they crave.
What would their pitch be if Labour was also for a second referendum? Backing another vote would also likely prevent further defections from the parliamentary Labour Party. But there are risks to this approach.
Labour coming out for a second referendum would cost them in their Leave-voting seats and in the places they must win to form a government.
Of the 45 seats in England and Wales that Corbyn needs to get a majority, 35 voted Leave. While 16 of his 20 most vulnerable seats backed Brexit.
What would make a deal attractive to Jeremy Corbyn would make it unpalatable to Theresa May.James Forsyth
Corbyn’s other option is to do a deal with Mrs May.
If he pushed her into accepting a customs union, then he would further divide the Tories.
A deal would also mean Britain was out and that Corbyn could fight the next election on the domestic issues he cares about most.
As one Cabinet Minister puts it: “There is an appeal for Corbyn to support something. He can create fissures within the Tory party, look serious, and if he becomes PM he doesn’t have to deal with all this crap.” But there are big risks to this approach, too.
If Corbyn helped a Brexit deal over the line, there would almost certainly be more defections from the Labour Party.
It would also produce a rallying cry for Chuka and Co.
They would be able to tell pro-Remain voters (and remember, Labour voters went for Remain by a two-to-one margin in the referendum) that Labour had betrayed them, that it could have stopped Brexit but chose not to.
This is a finely balanced decision for Corbyn. But he doesn’t have long to make up his mind. If the Tories take a pasting in either next month’s local elections or the European elections, then Mrs May could be gone as Tory leader — replaced by a Brexiteer.
This new Tory leader would immediately break off talks with Corbyn.
If he wants to do a deal, he needs to DO IT SOON. Which way will he go?
It’s quite finely balanced that a May/Corbyn deal could get throughCabinet Minister
Well, one of those involved tells me that the situation in the talks is “less negative than people think”. But the likelihood of these talks producing something remains low. What would make a deal attractive to Jeremy Corbyn would make it unpalatable to Theresa May.
Another complication is that, as one Cabinet Minister points out, “It’s quite finely balanced that a May/Corbyn deal could get through” the Commons as Labour MPs passionately in favour of a second referendum would vote against it, as would Tories who viscerally oppose a customs union.
The depressing truth is that there is now a growing risk that the Tory party doesn’t deliver Brexit AND doesn’t stop Jeremy Corbyn from getting to Number 10. This would be an epic failure.
Unless the Tory hold-outs decide to back the existing deal when they come back from their holidays, this danger will become increasingly real.Tories ponder Bojo’s second coming
CONSERVATIVE MPs are taking a second look at Boris Johnson.
PA:Press Association Boris Johnson is back in contention for the leadership now that Tories are more prepared to swallow their doubts about him
The former Foreign Secretary has more critics on the Tory benches than any other leadership contender.
But the party’s precipitous fall in the polls is making Tories reconsider.
If they are losing a quarter of their support to pro-Brexit parties, who is better placed to win those voters back than the man who led the Leave campaign? Boris’s campaign is more organised than it was.’PETRIFIED ABOUT THEIR SEATS’
The arrival of the former MP James Wharton has helped and, as one of those on the team puts it, MPs are now “petrified about their seats” and so more prepared to swallow their doubts about Boris.
A decade ago, one of those who knows the Tory party best told me that the Tories would only turn to Boris when they were 3-0 down with 15 minutes to go.
They now are three down and that means Boris is back in contention for the premiership.
Gove is in a prime position
MRS MAY might still be in the post. But make no mistake, the Tory leadership contest is under way.
AFP or licensors Michael Gove was recommended to run for Tory leadership by Treasury Minister Mel Stride
We have now even got ministers saying on live TV who they will back when there’s a contest.
This week, the Treasury Minister Mel Stride got 20 or so Tory MPs who want Michael Gove to run for leader together with their potential candidate for drinks.
One of those present tells me it is increasingly likely that Gove will run.
Threat to derail HS2
THE big decision on whether to press ahead with HS2 has to be taken in December.
Handout The HS2 project is in trouble as it faces the possibility of being scrapped
But with a change of Tory leader likely to happen before then, the project is in trouble.
Scrapping the scheme would give any new PM billions to spend on other projects, such as better transport within and between northern cities and proper, digital infrastructure for the whole of the UK.
There’ll be no shortage of candidates making this case come a Tory leadership contest.
We’re stuck in the middle with EU
THE six-month Brexit extension is the wrong length.
Rex Features Merkel wanted to give Britain an extension that gave the UK time to come up with a new path, whilst Macron wanted to force a short extension
It is neither short enough to force MPs to make up their minds about what they want, nor is it long enough to allow for a new Prime Minister and a general election campaign.
Emmanuel Macron wanted to give Britain a short extension to force a decision, Angela Merkel favoured one long enough to give the UK time to come up with a new path. In the end, they compromised on this medium-length extension.
“Two potential routes out and they went to the middle one that delivers us to nowhere,” laments one Cabinet Minister.
There is a real danger that the Brexit drift continues for another six months. This useless Parliament knows what it doesn’t want, but can’t say what it would actually accept.
If this happens, Britain will end up back at the EU Council in October asking for a THIRD EXTENSION.
CommentJEREMY CLARKSON It’s good if the police get angry, then we might stop the stabbings CommentTHE SUN SAYS Tories are mad to carry on talks with Labour and to contest European elections CommentTHE SUN SAYS You think our nation is humiliated now? Wait until MPs revoke Article 50 CommentJONATHAN MILLER UK might be going to the dogs with Brexit — but at least we’re not France CommentALLY ROSS Not even Simon Cowell’s teeth could distract Ant & Dec on Britain’s Got Talent
This would be ridiculous. But one Secretary of State predicts that this is “where we’ll probably end up and at that point Macron’s view will probably prevail”.
The French President might be so full of himself that you think he’s going to burst.
But he’s right that only a HARD DEADLINE will force our MPs to make up their minds.

James Forsyth is Political Editor of The Spectator.

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