Starmer and Davey have gone quiet on Brexit. That is good news for remainers even while many find it frustrating. It may be unsatisfying but it is also the only plausible path back to the EU.
At the 2019 General Election, remainers blew their last chance at the first hurdle.
That first hurdle was to oust Tories. Nothing else mattered to remain. Mistrusting Corbyn’s promised referendum or fearing Swinson would back a Tory coalition was like worring they’d trip on a curb later while not getting out of the way of the lorry about to run them down.
So remain died in December 2019 and Brexit became inevitable. The Tories Commons majority meant it couldn’t be stopped.
Worse still, no one but Tory MPs then had any influence over any type or timing of brexit either, and they are loyal to whatever they are told is “most brexity” in all brexit decisions. No protesting or parliamentary votes can change that. Campaigners might just as well shout at the rain.
Perhaps because remain is dead, remainers feel especially hurt to see Lib Dems and Labour step back from the corpse.
Labour under Starmer has largely just scrutinised process rather than demand things Johnson will then say no to just because it was asked for. Lib Dems under Davey have similarly moved against immediate “rejoin” as the next path for the party too, although many members are opposing their leader on that.
Quiet hurts remainers but while Labour has gone quiet on brexit, it has risen in the polls. Two polls this weekend put Labour ahead of the Tories – one of them by a potential election-winning 5 points.
Lib Dems are newer to the same path but polls have shown them a point up too. And of course both parties are better able to work together quietly.
Brexit is Identity, not Policy
Like American “Christians” who are adulterers and hateful but prove their Christian status by attacking abortion, Brexit is a badge for adherents that washes away any of their unBritish sins.
Protesting brexit thus creares a “them v us” dynamic – rallying brexiters back to the Tories for the fight.
The identity fight matters to brexit fans far more than any brexit outcome. Just look at how they cheered the withdrawal agreement a year ago as vindication against remainers, and now cheer efforts to scrap it as vindication against remainers.
That never-ending need to “fight” is how brexit ended up at ‘no deal’ having started at staying in the single market, and they will fight for anything they are told is brexit even if they were told to fight against it as unbrexit yesterday.
That First Hurdle Again
The Labour and Lib Dem Leaders are being quiet on brexit because of that. They are focused on that first hurdle again, not the fight. Getting Tories out is still the first hurdle for the future.
To do that, disarming brexit and the identity politics surrounding it is vital. And that means quiet is smart not just for remain, but maybe one day for rejoin.
Tories rally in the polls whenever brexit seems threatened. That is why the Tories try to bait Labour and Lib Dems into argument and even pretend those parties are still somehow a threat to brexit.
So don’t give them that fight. Focus instead on their weaknesses – incompetence, buffoonery and being out of touch. Meanwhile, time will deal with brexit.