I have written on the topic of Labour and the Brexit proceedings a great deal lately, so I’ll try and make this one brief. Even I’m getting sick of talking about it; yet given how important this is for what remains of progressive politics in this country, it is still vital to catalogue every detail.
The government is facing another legal challenge on Brexit, the substance of which is that a separate vote in the House of Commons should be required to leave the EEA that is completely separate to the one to trigger Article 50 that is currently in transit; that the government can only use the Bill currently going through the House to take Britain out of the EU, but not the single market. I have heard many things both ways about this challenge and what the likelihood of it succeeding is. But I have a whole other view on it: the ruling would be irrelevant to the final Brexit settlement anyhow given who the leader of the opposition is at present.
You have to ask yourself this here: would Labour MPs vote against a Bill that the government would be forced to create that linked the triggering of Article 50 with an automatic departure from the EEA in sufficient numbers to mean we actually stayed in the EEA as a result? The answer to that, given this past week, would have to be no. So the government would win the case in the House to crush this move regardless. The only chance of staying in the EEA would be if Labour would voted en masse against such a Bill and a few Tory rebels joined in. The reality is we would almost surely see another Corbyn whipping exercise to squash such a manoeuvre, with more Labour rebels this time around compared to the current Article 50 Bill, but not nearly enough of them to get sufficient Tory MPs to rebel themselves given the unlikelihood of success.
I suppose the one thing the success of this legal motion could do would be to put the Labour Party in an even worse place than it is currently. Voting down the single market option would kill Labour with Remainers in huge numbers. Perhaps for that reason, Theresa May should secretly be happy if the legal motion succeeds.