Editor’s note by Alan Bolwell

The final party conferences before Brexit have given an opportunity for both major parties to clarify their negotiating positions. So far both parties have managed factions within their memberships by claiming to be perfectly clear in their ambiguity. Theresa May is promising no deal, or a bad deal: defaulting to World Trade Organisation rules or the so-called Chequers Plan. Labour is proposing a customs union with the EU that would maintain EU standards and regulations, allowing frictionless trade and a solution to the Northern Ireland border.

Clear water has been drawn between the two major parties as Theresa May set out her vision for a low-tax, financial services-based economy; the ‘make Britain the Isle of Man of Europe’ – with chlorine in the chicken, Round-Up on the lettuce, sell the NHS – vision. 

Labour promises to work with centre-left parties across Europe to protect living standards and jobs, as Jeremy Corbyn announced at conference that Labour MPs would vote against any deal that would remove protections for workers or trading standards.

If Theresa May comes to parliament with a deal that MPs are asked to vote on and MPs vote down such a bill in parliament, Labour can call a vote of no confidence in the government. The Speaker of the House has the opportunity of putting forward legislation that could solve the parliamentary deadlock before a general election is triggered.

A second referendum with the option of staying in the EU could be used to solve such a parliamentary deadlock and derail two years of carefully organised parliamentary deadlock. In any such case, the campaign for a third referendum would start the very next day.


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