What does Labour think about Brexit? “Well search me,” said Lord Mandelson with a laugh last night after Newsnight asked him to define it. It fell to Sir Keir Starmer to shed some light today. He tried his best, using all the professionalism expected from a former Director of Public Prosecutions, but Tom Harris found there were numerous reasons to doubt “ whether such coherence will stand up to scrutiny or, more importantly, will attract the support of voters”.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary won’t be helped in his bid to provide clarity over Labour’s thinking by the split he opened up with his fellow colleagues over EU migration. Sir Keir said that immigration rules will “have to change as we exit the EU”, although Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said less than a fortnight ago that freedom of movement should be defended as a “workers’ right”, while Jeremy Corbyn is a stout defender of free movement. That may explain why he radiated “ all the hope and optimism of a punctured bouncy castle”, in Michael Deacon’s view.
Theresa May has kept her campaign on an even keel in the meantime, helped by her ‘strong and stable’ commitment to key election messaging. The polls continue to suggest that the Tories will romp to victory, with the latest suggesting they are on course for a 150-seat majority, so she has made a point of warning her Cabinet against complacency. The Prime Minister must find it all too tempting to gloat given the difficulty her Opposition is having even with agreeing on what it thinks about Brexit, but she will know that she has to drive her supporters out to the polls in order to obtain the big mandate she seeks.
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