by Frank Schnittger
Tue Jul 5th, 2016 at 05:24:48 PM EST
With Michael Gove increasingly being seen as the truly loathsome creature that he is, it looks as if Andrea Leadsom may become the main challenger to Teresa May from within the Brexit campaign. She has just secured the support of no less a luminary than Boris Johnson who is very popular with the Tory Party members who will make the final choice. If she succeeds in winning the Tory leadership, I doubt that George Osborne - who reportedly blocked her promotion to Cabinet - will agree to join her Government in any position whatsoever. Indeed, he may well go on to lead a rebellion against an Article 50 invocation in Westminster Parliament.
Should the new Tory Prime Minster, be it May or Leadsom, fail to secure parliamentary backing for an Article 50 invocation they may have no option but to call a general election, which will effectively become a second referendum on Brexit, and each party will then have to set out a clear policy on the EU.
Most Conservatives appear to be falling in line behind the Brexit position so the Tories will campaign on the basis of invoking article 50 and promising they will win lots of ponies in the exit negotiations by being tough with the EU. However some prominent Tories will campaign on a remain policy and may or may not be expelled as a result. Either way the Tories will be perceived as divided. UKIP can only benefit from this and will continue to sweep up the hard-line Brexit vote.
Labour will campaign on the basis of remaining in a reformed EU and setting out the reforms they will campaign for within the EU. As their victory is the only prospect that the 48% remain voters have of reversing the referendum result, they may very well win the election, and Corbyn or whoever succeeds him, will become Prime Minister possibly with the support of the Lib Dems and/or the SNP, both of which campaigned on the Remain side. The latter will support him on the basis of agreement to a second Scottish independence referendum when the outcome of EU negotiations are known.
Even the City will support Corbyn for PM when the alternative is leaving the EU and being led by Leadsom who was apparently considered to be the worst junior Treasury minister ever. However Corbyn will seek a completely different set of EU reforms than those sought by previous UK Governments. It will be about enhancing the structural, cohesion, regional, and social funds and policies of the EU, not about the neo-liberal market reforms previously championed by UK Governments. He may also seek increased transparency and accountability for the "Brussels bureaucracy" by increasing the powers of oversight of the European parliament, and insisting that the principle of subsidiarity be applied more rigorously in all EU related decision making.
In this way Corbyn will hope to woo the many disaffected Labour voters who have abandoned the party because of its support for neo-liberal "reforms" and neglect of its heartland industrial regions.
However he will also find a ready audience in Brussels and other EU capitals that matter - Berlin and Paris - who have tired of the UK's special pleadings on its own behalf and relieved to be finally dealing with someone willing to make a constructive contribution towards ameliorating the many structural deficits within the EU. Quite a substantial package of EU reforms will be agreed which will eventually succeed in bootstrapping the EU out of its austerity death spiral and perhaps in dampening demands for Scottish independence at least for a time.
Corbyn will become a British and European hero, saving both Unions at least for a time...