Jeremy Corbyn goes out on a limb with his latest Brexit analysis
The Labour leader went against expert opinion by arguing that the 'real divide' is not Remain v Leave.
In his big speech today, Jeremy Corbyn yet again failed to flesh out Labour’s position on Brexit. Instead, he tried to justify his apparent lack of interest in the topic - by arguing that the real divide in Britain is not actually around Brexit after all.
"The truth is, the real divide in our country is not between those who voted to remain in the EU and those who voted to leave. It is between the many – who do the work, who create the wealth and pay their taxes, and the few – who set the rules, who reap the rewards and so often dodge taxes," he said.
"People across the country, whether they voted leave or remain know that the system isn’t working for them. Some see the EU as a defence against insecurity and hostility. Others see the EU as part of an establishment that plunged them into insecurity and hostility in the first place.
"But it’s the failed system rigged against the many to protect the interests of the few that is the real cause of inequality and insecurity whether it’s in Tottenham or Mansfield ... Because for both sides the EU referendum was about much more than our relationship with our biggest trading partner and its rules. It was about what has happened to our people over decades and how to build a better future.”
One person taking issue with this analysis was former Labour leader-in-waiting David Miliband. Unfortunately for the current Labour leader, his line of argument also flies in the face of much of the academic evidence and expert comment that has been produced in the wake of the referendum.
In June 2017, one year after the referendum, a report commissioned by the Political Studies Association demonstrated how “the continuing divide between those who favour and oppose Brexit appears to have given rise to a set of new political identities in Britain”.
In February 2018, various academics at the UK in a Changing Europe uncovered evidence that "the emergence of new Brexit identities has led to quite divergent views" and has had "a highly polarizing effect on British society”.
In December 2018, the respected FT commentator Robert Shrimsley noted that expert analysis showed how voters now feel their Brexit stance far more keenly than anything else: "Remain and Leave have become so deeply a part of political identity that many voters will not listen to those they link with the opposite stance…Our allegiances are such that if you identify as a Leaver or Remainer, you are far more likely to adopt other positions which accompany that status."
And we thought Michael Gove was the politician who has had enough of experts...