Should Labour vote with the government on Brexit?

It’s a complex question, let’s unpack it.

It’s most likely Boris Johnson will secure a last minute deal with the EU, by capitulating at the last minute and showing the last few months of posturing and macho bluster for the nonsense they were and are. This beggars the question: when legislation is brought through to get the final *for now* deal over the line, should Labour vote with the majority?

This is a political question with a plurality of ramifications. Let’s unpack it.

Voting with the government will help combat feelings Labour is committed to blocking the referendum result, and help detoxify the brand with centre-left leave voters. It neutralises the attack lines that’ll inevitably ensure from the govt about the “will of the people” and put those talking of Rejoin on the Blairite right (a politically disastrous idea) in their place.

The issue with this strategy is it might show disunity, if a large chunk of the PLP rebel; an even worse look than a principled vote against. And this means Labour can’t attack or criticise if this hard Brexit becomes a disaster, which it very likely could, since we’re cutting ties far more than needed with our closest trading partner.

Voting against the government removes complicity in hard Brexit, it allows Labour to take a stand on worker’s rights and standards, and make the case for a more conciliatory form of Brexit, with a more comprehensive exit deal. It is far more in line with the viewpoint of most Labour MPs and members.

The catch here is the attacks from the government will all but sever Labour Leave folks indefinitely save utter post-departure pandemonium (likelihood of which is overblown) during the onslaught of Twitter graphics of LABOUR BLOCKED BREXIT — SAME OLD LABOUR etc etc and won’t change or prevent anything.

Labour need to make a choice and stick to it throughout. I’d argue they need to make the case for a more comprehensive deal, make the case for further negotiations after this to strengthen ties while outside the EU, condemn the breaches of international law and threat to the Good Friday Agreement, and vote for the deal to “deliver the referendum result” while presenting all those caveats.

This approach would show Labour giving this a chance, while they’ll have won the argument if any of those warnings come to pass and Johnson makes a pigs ear of his neoliberal Brexit, while pushing him towards a more progressive Brexit and leaving the door open for Labour to negotiate such a settlement later down the line.
One thing must be clear: Labour must give no oxygen whatsoever to Rejoin.