Brexit may have ripped politics apart but it has yet to remove either of the main party leaders – despite no shortage of opposition. Like Article 50, though, the clock is ticking.
Recent speculation has centred on Theresa May, who was matched at just 1.1 to be Next Leader to Leave and is still odds-on at 1.92. However if weekend headlines and social media warring are indicators, focus may be about to shift to Jeremy Corbyn – still an outsider at 11.0 but those odds are shortening.
Already under pressure from ‘Peoples Vote’ campaigners to change Labour policy, Corbyn’s interview with The Guardian sparked another round of social media blood-letting on the left. Stating that Labour would go into a snap election pursuing renegotiation, rather than a referendum, was a gift to his critics.
Those who have consistently pointed to Corbyn’s career of Euroscepticism and failure to lead during the referendum feel vindicated. They claim he is a Brexiteer leading an overwhelmingly Remain party, sleepwalking towards electoral catastrophe. One recent poll showed that Labour could fall behind the Lib Dems if enabling Brexit. That is probably overblown but must be a worry given their historic rivals remain unpopular, stuck in single-digits.
Labour tactics remain deliberately vague
As ever with Corbyn, the media and his opponents, it is instructive to read the actual piece, rather than the headline. He also said Labour policy was unchanged. The problem is hardly anybody understands their policy, let alone the tactical sequencing.
To clarify, that position has three stages. 1) Vote down May’s deal. 2) Try to force a general election. 3) All options on the table, including Remain.
To date, that has been a shrewd, ambiguous plan. Designed to keep Labour factions relatively united, delay the hard decisions, let the Tories tear each other apart and take the hit. When May’s deal fails and they are forced to delay or reconsider Brexit, Labour will be freer to ditch past commitments in response to a national crisis that was not their creation. It would make no strategic sense to commit anything yet, before the parliamentary vote.