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Many people who voted for Britain to leave the EU will assume that Boris Johnson irrevocably secured a deal after years of chaos and confusion.
Brexiteers are strengthened in this belief because, apart from the Scottish-Nationalists, very few politicians openly mourn the European Union or say that they want to re-join it as soon as possible. The squabbles about Brexit are surely over.
Beware of such complacency! There are, in fact, many MPs and several organisations yearning for this country to be re-admitted by Brussels, and stealthily working towards that end.
And why should we be surprised? Eurosceptics campaigned for decades to leave the EU, and were depicted as loonies or extremists by mainstream politicians. Europhiles are doing the same thing from the other direction. The difference is that they are moving more swiftly.
One body which gazes longingly across the Channel is called Best for Britain. It was founded in 2017 to stop the UK leaving the EU, despite a majority having voted to do so the previous year. Not outstandingly democratic, then.
After we finally quit the European Union, despite Best for Britain’s attempts to overturn the result of the Referendum, the organisation re-branded itself. It now champions ‘internationalist values’ without explicitly advocating EU membership. But that, of course, is the Holy Grail.
Members of its board and its executives are the same people who used to plot to stick with Brussels. It continues to attract Europhile former British ambassadors and proBrussels politicians from all parties to its councils.
STEPHEN GLOVER: Some Lib Dem MPs, such as Layla Moran (pictured), are, admittedly, keen on the idea
Best of Britain’s latest ploy concerns a survey of 10,000 voters, conducted on its behalf by a company called Focaldata. It supposedly shows that a formal arrangement between Labour and the Liberal Democrats would lead to both parties winning enough seats together for Sir Keir Starmer to become Prime Minister.
According to an analysis of the polling, an electoral pact between Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens — in which these parties would agree to stand down candidates to maximise the chances of beating the Tories — would result in a small overall majority.
The suggestion is that under such arrangements, Labour would win 322 seats, the Lib Dems 13 and the Greens 1, giving them a combined total of 336, which would take them over the 325 threshold for a simple majority.
However, if there were no such alliance, and candidates from these three parties stood against one another, they would fall short of an overall majority, according to the analysis. In that case, they would require the support of the Scottish Nationalist Party to form a government.
The import is that a threeway alliance between Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens would see off the Tories without necessitating any reliance on the SNP. Voters who backed the alliance would be told that the SNP could be side-lined as an electoral force at Westminster.
The upshot, so Best for Britain implies, is that the SNP would be in no position to insist on a second independence referendum in Scotland. Unionists could plump for the alliance with an untroubled heart.
It is, of course, all balderdash — and dangerous balderdash at that. In the first place, the chances of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens accepting such a formal pact are practically zero.
Some Lib Dem MPs, such as Layla Moran, are, admittedly, keen on the idea. Yet the fact remains that any party which withdraws candidates on a large scale risks destroying its reputation as a national party.
Labour might agree not to fight a few seats where the Lib Dems are the main opposition to the Conservatives, but it is not going to stand down in those constituencies where Labour and the Lib Dems are rival contenders.
As for the Greens, who regard themselves as a rising force in British politics, they would be crazy to risk oblivion by ceding to the Lib Dems or Labour in a significant number of seats.
Some local deals may be cobbled together, where one or two parties stand aside to let a third have an unfettered shot at the Tories, but a nationwide strategy between the three parties is inconceivable.
Unless the Tories self-immolate to an extent that no one foresees, an anti-Conservative governing alliance is unimaginable without the involvement of the Scottish Nationalists. Their inevitable price would be a second independence referendum authorised by the UK Government.
A vote for the alliance conjured up by Best for Britain would therefore be a vote for the break-up of the United Kingdom. But perhaps the organisation would not mind that eventuality very much if it could steer the bloodied rump of the country back into the maw of Brussels.
Re-joining the European Union is what Best for Britain really wants, despite its pretence that its main interest is ‘internationalism’. (Incidentally, how is that different from Brexiteers’ ‘Global Britain’?) Its fantasy of a three-party alliance excluding the SNP is part of a ruse to trick the British people back into EU membership.
And this, I have no doubt, will be the powerful undertow of British politics over the next few years. Labour won’t campaign for re-admission, but it will betray its normally concealed colours by mostly siding with Brussels in its fight with the Government over the Northern Ireland Protocol during the coming months.
Remember that Sir Keir Starmer was as fanatical as Best for Britain in his attempts to overturn the democratic result of the 2016 Referendum. The Shadow Cabinet is packed with equally passionate Remainers. As for the Lib Dems, they are, if anything, even more fervently pro-EU.
Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer on ITV’s ‘Loose Women’ TV show on May 16
Over the Channel, canny politicians are well aware of the strong, largely hidden pro -European sympathies which persist in much of Labour and all of the Liberal Democrat Party (and, it must be said, in one or two corners of the Conservative Party).
Only last week, President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his vision of a ‘European political community… a new European organisation’ in which Britain might be invited to play a part. How pulses must have raced at Best for Britain, and in Sir Keir’s office!
I don’t expect Labour will show its cards before the next election. But who can doubt that if Sir Keir somehow emerged as Prime Minister, with political debts to be paid to his SNP allies, a slow unravelling of Brexit would begin?
First there would be new expressions of solidarity with Brussels. Any residual differences with the EU would be settled in its favour. Then we would re-join the Single Market and the Customs Union. Eventually — chastened, humilated and required to accept onerous terms — we would be led on a tether back to Brussels.
That is why we must realise that the deal is not irrevocably done. It is also why, when I grow exasperated with Boris Johnson, as I often do, I try to remember that he remains the surest bulwark against a gradual reversion to membership of the EU.
We should probably be grateful to Best for Britain and its stratagems, since they remind us that, although one battle for Brexit has been won, the war continues.
And everyone who wants Britain to stay free should remember this when the election comes.