Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to support the amendment calling for Britain to remain within the EU customs union and single market confirms that he believes the country would be better off outside (Corbyn sacks three frontbench MPs over single market, 30 June).
This is not, as has been presented, about him fulfilling the wishes of those who voted to leave the EU in the referendum. He has no way of telling what the majority of voters wanted on this particular issue. It is therefore his personal view.
If only 5% of those who voted in the referendum voted to leave the EU (as defined on the ballot slip) and yet wanted to stay within the customs union and single market, ie the Norwegian model, then there would be a majority support in the country in favour of staying in the single market. Since we, and Corbyn, have no way of knowing what level of support there was for the Norwegian model, the Labour party line on the issue is based on political judgment. Corbyn clearly believes it is better that we leave. It is time for him to be honest, in line with his new style of politics, and say so – and explain why.
Shaun V Soper
Midhurst, West Sussex
• Ruth Cadbury is to be applauded for her rebellion over the single market, but not for her justification of it. It is not the job of MPs to vote in accordance with their constituents’ wishes. They should listen to as many voices as possible and then vote for what, in their judgment, is in the best interests of their constituents. This is representative democracy, for which MPs are held to account at the ballot box.
• Despite having been a supporter for more than 40 years, I voted Labour on 8 June neither because of its leader nor, contrary to what Emily Thornberry suggests (Labour urged to focus on toppling Tories rather than the ‘faux battles’ over Brexit, 1 July), because of its manifesto. I did so because I saw this election as being overwhelmingly about Brexit, and thus essentially about the parliament we will have until the end of the negotiations. Given their significance for the UK’s future, these will almost certainly require another election by 2020, no matter what their outcome.
As a strong resister, I was looking to the general election to deliver as many MPs as possible who would see it as their key role in this parliament to represent the will of the 48% who voted remain, and who would remember that their mandate would come not from their party or its leader, let alone from the 2016 referendum, but from those who voted for them on 8 June.
For those reasons, I strongly commend the Labour MPs who voted for the Umunna/Doughty amendment, and regard Thornberry’s calling this “virtue signalling” as high-handed and patronising. When it comes to Brexit-related matters, I would urge MPs who want to represent the 48% to follow the lead of Ken Clarke rather than Jeremy Corbyn.
Richard de Friend
• “Faux battles”, as Emily Thornberry says, are indeed the last thing Labour needs, and one has to question, yet again, Chuka Umunna’s motives. Why can’t he, like the rest of us, enjoy the fact that the Tories are in a huge mess, lacking direction and leadership, and under fire for the massive damage their failed austerity policies have caused?
The “botched response” by the government has not been confined to the Grenfell Tower tragedy: its opening Brexit salvos have been ridiculed in Brussels, and its confusion over the public sector wage freeze is simply adding to Conservative anguish. Labour tactics until the summer recess should focus on displaying a united front, and capitalising on the government’s disunited one.
Plenty of opportunities for political gain will come, especially if Labour concentrates on the manifesto’s “there is an alternative to this” message, publicises the need for fairness to be introduced into the government’s proposal to continue to subsidise wealthy landowners, and waits for the inevitable car crashes whenever Tory politicians are asked challenging questions in interviews.
• Elisabeth Young (Letters, 1 July) gives heavily ironic thanks to Jeremy Corbyn for his stance on Brexit. May I, in the same vein, thank Chuka Umunna and his pals who tabled and voted for an amendment that directly contradicted the leadership’s directions, thus once again making the party seem chaotically divided and hence unfit to govern. Moreover, it clearly helped those in the press who like to present the party as bent on thwarting “the will of the people”. And, of course, it stood no chance of success, so it can only have been posturing.
Having done my best to support Labour since Corbyn stood for election, I can now resume my former position as “disappointed ex-Labour voter” and have more time to myself. Thanks!
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