Theresa May has “reached out” to the Labour Party to hammer out an agreeable deal on Brexit in what on the face of it seems a genuine (all be it desperate) act of bipartisanship. But commentators aren’t quite so sure, warning that the offer has all the hallmarks of a trap designed to blame Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for the subsequent Brexit fallout, sucure an extension from the EU and force Theresa May’s three-time rejected deal through against the will of parliament.
“We would want to agree a timetable for this bill to ensure it is passed before the 22nd of May, so the UK need not take part in European parliamentary elections.”Theresa May, Prime Minister
Setting a deadline of May 22nd so Britain doesn’t have to take part in European parliamentary elections is wholly problematic as the EU has stated that if Britain does not take part in those elections, then it must cease to be a member, not taking part being unconstitutional. Therefore, with a May 22nd deadline on the table and no possibility of an extension beyond this due to the elections on May 23rd, parliament would be forced to chose between Theresa May’s deal and no deal should “talks” between the Conservatives and Labour fail.
Should these talks, which potentially are designed solely to secure the extension from the EU, “fail” then Theresa May could, of course, blame Labour for their failure and go back to Theresa May’s plan as the “best option” the government can present at the final hour. With Labour insistent on a customs union and only 36 Tories in favour of such a thing, the likelihood that common ground can be found seems remote.
The warnings for caution were legion, with Clive Lewis, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP and Margaret Smith of the Lib Dems amongst the many warning of the dangers.
“This is really a trap for Jeremy Corbyn, she wants him to sign up to her deal and she wants him to sign up to something that says this will not go beyond the 22nd of May… she’s wanting him to basically hold the baby and what she’s going to give him is effectivly the love child of Boris Johnson”Margaret Smith, Liberal Democrat MSP, Scotland Tonight
Boris Johnson seemed eager to begin Project Blame Corbyn early.
The media meanwhile were already setting further ground for Project Blame Corbyn, The Sun already laying the seeds for the incoming “great betrayal” accusation that will come.
If Britain stays in the customs union, it will be a “betrayal” of the working class, if Britain exits on no-deal and the cross-party effort fails, it will be because Labour put “party before country.”
Despite the dire warnings, Jeremy Corbyn was ready to make good on the original offer he made to the government last September and work with Theresa May. Labour will almost certainly be wary however and after a masterful few months that has seen Labour take a five-point lead in the polls and leave Labour on the cusp on government, are unlikely to walk blindly into a trap of Theresa May’s making.