Keir Starmer appeared to have made a dramatic U-turn yesterday after he rejected calls for the Brexit transition period to be extended.
Speaking on LBC the Labour leader said he would rather “the negotiations were completed as quickly as possible” in comments that will horrify many people who are rightly concerned by the double-dip impact of an untimely exit from the EU.
As a long-term opponent of a disruptive Brexit it seemed to be a peverse move from Starmer – until the logic became clear.
Sir Keir is well aware that the December deadline will be, as the Deputy Irish Premier said last week, virtually impossible to meet.
“Covid-19 has made what is already a very, very difficult timeline to get agreement virtually impossible,” the Tanaiste said.
“Given the added complications of Covid-19 it surely makes sense to seek a bit more time to navigate our way through these very difficult waters in the months ahead so that we can get a good outcome for the UK and EU.”
But that’s not what the Conservative Party promised.
Indeed, the crux of their election campaign was predicated on three words, and if they are seen to be unable to deliver even that then their turbulent administration will be deemed worthless in the eyes of the public.
All Labour needs to do is hold them to it.
Hold them to it
That’s why Starmer’s preceding comments on LBC were the most enlightening.
“The government says it’s going to get negotiations and a deal done by the end of the year,” he said.
“I’ve always thought that’s tight and pretty unlikely, but we’re going to hold them to that and see how they get on. They say they’re going to do it.
“I don’t think it’s practical but we’re a long way from December so we’ll see how we get on. The government has said we can do it within the 12 months, so let’s see.”
The Conservatives have already exposed their ineptitude over their handling of the coronavirus crisis. If they are exposed again on their one general election pledge it will be curtains for them; It’s the perfect ideological trap.