Ben Habib: We haven’t actually had Brexit yet
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In the latest Cabinet reshuffle, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been handed the new role of Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency. This followed the release of a policy paper on “how the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU”. But the publication of another, more critical report has prompted at least one academic to insist the option of rejoining the EU should be placed firmly on the table.
Professor Alex de Ruyter, director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, branded Brexit a costly mistake and suggested the idea it brought benefits was “fiction”.
He also called on Labour to drop its “disingenuous” approach of “making Brexit work” – impossible, in his view – and “come off the fence” on the side of reattaching Britain to the EU.
Businessmen and MPs both in and out of the Labour movement have, however, dismissed this approach as not serious and as lacking any real support.
Labour MP Graham Stringer, telling Express.co.uk: “Keir Starmer has learnt his lesson – we just have to make Brexit work.”
He said: “If we want to lose the next general election by more than we lost the last one, [pushing for ‘rejoin’] would be the way to do it.”
Mr Stringer added there is “no appetite” for going through the whole Brexit plot again – voters simply want ”whichever Government to get on with getting the best out of the current situation that we can”.
He said: “I think there is a small group of diehards who will never change their minds.
“They are entitled to either view, but it is no longer serious politics.”
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Ben Habib, pro-Brexit businessman and former MEP, was equally certain about there being “no popular support [either within Labour’s membership or the wider voting public] in rejoining”.
He added that Labour, given its roots, would be wrong to pursue a rejoin agenda.
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “The Labour Party was actually set up, just to remind Sir Keir Starmer, to represent workers’ rights and it was the UK, ahead of the EU, that championed those rights.
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“Our employment laws are actually more protective of the workforce than the EU.
“Labour has no grounds on which, ideologically [and electorally], it should wish to rejoin the EU.”
He added that Labour would struggle to pursue its state interventionist vision within the bloc, “because it’s the EU that will be doing it”.
Mr Habib and Mr Stringer took different views on the level of support for rejoining the EU within the parliamentary Labour Party.
But both agreed the British public wants to stay out of the bloc and will be resistant of any plan which looks likely to reverse the 2016 vote.
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