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When we need a lecture on loyalty from Chuka Umunna, we’ll ask


IT goes against the grain to praise anyone named Kinnock. However, Neil’s boy Stephen, the Labour member for Aberavon, deserves a cheer for being one of the few Remain-voting MPs to stand by Labour’s 2017 manifesto assurance that the party ‘accepts the referendum result’.

Caroline Flint is another due credit for publicly opposing the contortions performed by the Labour leadership. Flint and Kinnock’s vision for a post-Brexit Britain is not one shared by contributors to TCW; nonetheless, the pair should be congratulated for consistently arguing that the UK must leave the EU.

Earlier this month Flint and Kinnock were amongst those who endorsed a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker from ‘Labour Members of Parliament who wish to see the British EU referendum result honoured without further delay’. The 19 signatories declared: ‘If a new deal can be brought back to the Commons in the coming weeks that avoids a No Deal Brexit and ensures greater certainty regarding the UK’s departure, we believe it serves Britain’s national interest to approve it. Our votes will be decisive [their emphasis] in determining the approval of that deal.’

Their pledge to approve a new Withdrawal Agreement was, however, contingent upon it being ‘a deal which . . . protects EU citizens’ rights, workers’ rights and environmental standards’. Predictably, this has become Labour Remainers’ specious plan of attack: Keir Starmer, whose title ought to be Shadow Secretary of State for NOT Exiting the European Union, and who if he could get away with it would revoke Article 50 today, scaremongers that Boris’s deal is a ‘recipe for deregulation’.

As if. In any case, instead of relying upon a distant bureaucracy to legislate for Britain, Starmer and other Labour alarmists can readily strengthen domestic regulation by agreeing to an election and arguing their case to be elected into government.

Most of the Labour MPs who wrote to Juncker will no doubt be torn on whether to support the revised Withdrawal Agreement, especially those who fear deselection for facilitating a so-called Tory Brexit. However, at least some the waverers might just have been nudged towards Boris’s deal by a ghost from their recent past.

Gloria de Pierio, one of the potentially renegade Labour MPs, tweeted: ‘Is Chuka Ummuna [sic] really on the radio giving Labour MPs a lecture on loyalty to the Labour Party or am I still asleep and just having a weird dream?’

At the time of writing, nomadic Chuka Umunna remains a member of the Liberal Democrats. Elected for Labour but unwilling to grant the south Londoners of Streatham a by-election, it is beyond parody that Umunna should now warn others not to betray their voters. But Chuka can: ‘There has been speculation that Labour MPs may support the Withdrawal Agreement. I have to say I would be quite flabbergasted if substantial numbers of Labour MPs did that . . . it would sell workers’ rights down the river. Admittedly some of the Labour MPs who have been talked of as potentially supporting the Prime Minister tomorrow are not intending to stand again. But I suppose my question would be, do they really want one of their last acts to be assisting a Right-wing Conservative nationalist political project, for that to be their last act in British politics?’

Leave aside Umunna’s sneering assertion that it has been Right-wing nationalists driving Brexit, which was estimated to have been supported by 60 per cent of Labour constituencies and 35 per cent of Labour voters, those Labour MPs who have stayed faithful to their party while remaining principled over Brexit deserve better than strictures from the country’s most peripatetic politician.

Boris’s deal, if approved by Parliament, will be far from the clean getaway desired by many of us; however, it could well be the final opportunity for there to be any break from the EU. If Stephen Kinnock, Caroline Flint and the rest of those Labour letter-writers are still deliberating how to vote, Chuka Umunna has just given them reason to spite the self-satisfied smoothie.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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