Brexit: Today Was the Day

In theory, this election campaign could be the opportunity to open up an adult debate on international trade – something that we have not had in the three years-plus since the EU referendum.

By Dr Richard North and cross-posted from

If Johnson was to be believed – to say nothing of £100 million-worth of government publicity – we would have been leaving the European Union at eleven this evening. Yet one cannot exactly say that the prime minister in office lied to us – even if he is an inveterate liar. It was simply a rash promise that was always going to be difficult to deliver.

By way of a consolation prize, we are to get a general election on 12 December, with the (implied) promise that we get to leave on 31 January if enough Tory MPs get elected to give their prime minister a working majority.

However, it seems that I’m very far from the only one to develop a rather cynical view of this coming election. The Irish Times seems to share much the same sentiments. “The British electorate”, it says, “faces a huge choice”:

Ideally, the main political parties would spell out the consequences of Brexit, along with their plans to proceed and what these would mean. More likely, the campaign will lapse into shallow sloganeering about getting Brexit done, or a jobs-friendly Brexit, or whatever.

And ain’t that the truth. This is supposedly a “Brexit election”, but already we can see where the land lies. In yesterday’s PMQ exchanges between Corbyn and Johnson, the rhetoric quickly turned to NHS issues, with the leader of the opposition complaining that the US had called for “full market access” to our NHS which, he said, “would mean prices of some of our most important medicines increasing by up to sevenfold”.

Immediately after PMQs, Corbyn then visited Crawley Hospital in West Sussex, to launch his election campaign, making himself available for media shots with nurses and other NHS staff. Today, according to the Mirror, he takes aim at what he describes as “a corrupt system” run by those with vested interests – the tax dodgers, bad bosses and big polluters, all of whom are holding the country back.

Labour strategists, we are told, believe that once Corbyn gets out on the campaign trail, it will be clear that he, not the Tory prime minister, is the anti-establishment candidate for change

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