The Labour leader was an ardent supporter of ‘Remain’ and even supported calls for a second referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU. Research suggests the former lawyer attempted to undo the will of the British people no fewer than 48 times by trying to stop Brexit. But since taking the helm of the Opposition benches, he has come to accept Brexit is done – and that, in his own words, “there’s no case for rejoining” and that “we have to make it work”.
Sir Keir’s new ploy to win support from voters can perhaps be summed up by just three words uttered by the Labour leader in a recent interview: “Make Brexit work.”
Alan Wager, Research Associate at UK in a Changing Europe, suggested the phrase could be interpreted as a sign Labour is set to take the so-called ‘Lexit’ (left-wing Brexit) approach of ensuring Britain’s newfound freedoms are used in a way to support and uplift British workers.
According to Mr Wage, writing in UnHerd, “you could be forgiven” for thinking the “make Brexit work” message is dull enough to indicate the Labour leader “would rather talk about anything else.”
If this was intentional, the approach appears to have worked well.
The “make Brexit work” line first appeared in an interview with the Guardian, buried well below his comments on ‘Partygate’, attaining power and his love of both music and sport.
Brexit is only really touched upon three times in the published interview.
A more positive assessment, however, could suggest Labour is keen to improve its “radical appeal”, in Mr Wage’s words, among pro-‘Leave’ voters.
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He added: “It is possible that Starmer may well be able to ‘have his cake and eat it’, successfully marrying both the Left-populist definition that talks up the benefits of Brexit, as well as being seen as a managerial figure able to come up with useful solutions to make UK-EU relations easier.”
For some, the “irony” of Sir Keir adopting a full-Brexit approach has not been missed.
Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media, wrote: “[The move is] electorally necessary but ironic for a man who was the face of stopping Brexit altogether.”
Mr Wage added that another interpretation of the Labour leader’s comments was that his words were more “technocratic” than value-based.
Perhaps, he said, “make Brexit work” simply equates to a call for “relatively minor technical tweaks to the existing UK-EU deal”.
With the next general election potentially two whole years away, the electorate will likely have to wait for a more fleshed-out vision of Brexit to be delivered by Labour’s leadership.