chapter  14
12 Pages

Brexit and the Labour Party

Euro-caution vs. Euro-fanaticism? The Labour party’s ‘constructive ambiguity’ on Brexit and the European Union
ByPatrick Diamond

This chapter examines the political culture and traditions of Labour in shaping the party's outlook on European integration after 1945. It addresses Labour's European policy under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the party from September 2015, alongside the stance that Corbyn has adopted in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum. Despite a long track record of principled opposition to the European Union (EU), Corbyn has acted prudently on Europe since becoming leader, paying attention to the need to preserve party unity and shore up Labour's electoral coalition. The chapter then addresses Labour's position on Brexit in the lead-up to the conclusion of negotiations with the EU in March 2019. The consequence of Corbyn's cautious approach became apparent following the result of the 2017 general election; on the face of it, the result was a vindication of Corbyn's strategy. The position that Corbyn has adopted on the Brexit negotiations is redolent of Harold Wilson's approach in the early 1970s.