Paul Mason clinging on by his fingernails

Paul Mason is still fighting the last war, his vision of the politics obscured by economics. Theresa May is right: there is no feasible political stopping off point short of exiting the single market and the customs union. Membership of the European Free Trade Area and the European and the European Economic Area will bring most of the obligations of EU membership without the rights and would satisfy neither those who voted remain nor those who voted leave. I am sure there is a strong economic argument for it; politically it is dead in the water. It is not saved by trying to wriggle off the free movement hook. Free movement is not a ‘principle’ for us but I don’t know why the EU would agree to suspend one of its principles for ten years. And anyway, why are we making the same old introspective argument for British exceptionalism? Propose a reform of free movement in Europe not a get-out for Britain. The Tories are pitching for a customised deal with the EU, and they are unlikely to get it. Failing that, they want a free trade agreement which will take a long time and give them a lot less than we have now. Labour’s job as an opposition is not to cling to membership of one or other of the EU structures but simply to expose and denounce the consequences of what the Tories have done. Labour’s long term policy should be membership of a reformed EU. The hope for that is probably dead for a generation but the campaign for it can begin now.

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