IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Vague, over-simplified tests with but one subjective

23 November, 2018

• EVER anxious to learn more about Brexit I sought out the six “tests” set by Labour, which has form in this area.

Remember Gordon Brown’s five tests for the euro, John Prescott’s pledge card and Ed Miliband’s “six election pledges”? I found them vague so I called Labour HQ to ask where I might find the full detail.

Sadly, no one I spoke to had an idea what I was on about. In truth, there are only five “tests”. Number six (“Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?”) must surely be a cut-and-paste error: a mission statement by a pizza delivery firm.

Test two is a feeble attempt at satirising MP David Davis. What might be the “exact same benefits” of the customs union when it is nothing more than a device to protect European business with tariffs.

It causes higher prices for food, shoes and clothes, and relegates member states to the role of unpaid tax collectors.

Test four talks about a race to the bottom and, having heard much talk of the “backstop”, I found myself understanding none of it so gave it a swerve. Test five refers to tackling cross-border crime. Tell that to Andrew Symeou or the parents of Ashya King.

These lists or tests are always the same. Vague, over-simplified and subjective, such that political greasers can always claim to have measured the situation against the tests and that their position is correct.

They contribute nothing, so rather than trivialising Brexit by facile simplification for party political reasons why not raise the horizon beyond the Palace of Westminster?

Here’s a thing to ponder. May 1940, Clement Attlee – hard to believe we once had statesmen of such calibre – announced to the House that his party would join with the Conservatives to form a National Government in order to address the present emergency, but not if Neville Chamberlain remained as prime minister.

Chamberlain stood down in favour of Winston Churchill while remaining leader of the Conservative Party in the Commons. Might Jeremy Corbyn recognise the seriousness of the current situation and offer the same to the House to run until 2022?

Theresa May out and Labour in government. This might allow them to realise the only test that has merit: “Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?”

STEPHEN SOUTHAM
Mildmay Grove North, N1

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