This is why the real fight starts now. Theresa May has played her last, desperate move, by calling for talks with Jeremy Corbyn and suggesting she drag the process out for few more weeks. She did not promise to relax her red lines, she merely wants to share the blame of her failure. Labour must insist that Theresa May resigns and brings an end to this farce that has turned Britain into the world’s favourite laughing stock. The time has come for Jeremy Corbyn to call loudly and clearly for a long extension to Article 50. An extension long enough to bring in a new government through a general election, unite the country behind a fresh vision, and change the course on Brexit once and for all. Most importantly, the time has come to also announce that Labour will contest the upcoming EU Parliament election that the Tories are too scared to face.
There are obvious reasons to do this. It would benefit the country because we need a General Election to turn the page and begin to write a new chapter in our history. It would benefit Labour because a long extension of article 50 would initiate an internal civil war about the soul of the Conservative party that could kick the Tories out of power for a generation (ask John Major if in doubt). It would benefit progressives in Europe too. An EU election is likely to offer Labour the largest progressive delegation in the European Parliament and put us in a position to lead not only European Socialism, but the entire Left in Europe. Such leading position in Europe would be crucial to deliver our transformative agenda at home. There is no way a socialist government in Downing Street can hope to reboot growth and productivity in Britain if the rest of Europe stagnates because of austerity.
Many fear the rise of the far right at the EU elections. Farage has already started his electoral campaign and it is conceivable that he will build up some momentum with his Brexit betrayal cry. Is this a good reason not to face his challenge? Do we doubt that we have more convincing arguments to counter his polemics? In fact, he is not any different from the other European xenophobes which are gaining ground throughout the continent. In the UK as well as anywhere else in Europe we should simply say: ¡No pasarán!
Many fear that it is going to be difficult to resolve the contradiction between respecting the referendum results and engaging with EU democracy. I hear these concerns. Labour cannot choose between internationalism and democracy, between our European and socialist identity. Yet, it makes sense to ask for a mandate for a Brexit strategy in an election about the EU, as long as our Brexit strategy is clear. But is it clear? I think it misses a couple of ingredients. Yes, the Brexit plan to keep the country into a customs union is sensible and so is the idea to put any Brexit deal to the people in a public vote. What I think is missing in this plan is audacity and radical democracy.