Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PM Has Put the Ball at the Labour Leader's Feet; Established 1827

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PM Has Put the Ball at the Labour Leader's Feet; Established 1827

Article excerpt

"THE duty of an opposition is to oppose". Tory aristocrat Randolph Churchill coined the phrase; middle-class Marxist Jeremy Corbyn has spent a lifetime practising it. He has reacted to Theresa May's unexpected request for help in the right way: he says he'll discuss it. Why not? It puts him where every opposition leader in history wants to be: at the centre of events. It makes this most un-prime ministerial of Labour leaders look don't choke on your tea prime ministerial. If he's clever, he'll ask for the meeting to be held in Downing Street so he can come in through the famous front door. But don't be fooled. His overriding task is to prise out the Tory occupant and replace her. That wasn't his goal a couple of years ago. Then he just wanted to prise out the moderates in the Labour Party and replace them. But now he's got a whiff of power and he wants the keys to No 10. To the cry of "put the national interest first" he responds, as all opposition leaders do: "The nation would be much better served if I were in charge." To the charge of "you're betraying Brexit" he would say in private: "I don't want my fingers anywhere near the deal that pulls Britain out of the EU." As a revolutionary socialist, he knows Brexit delivers a double bonus: it destroys the Tories and it also undermines capitalism and free trade. Even if, as a Brexiteer himself, he wanted to back Mrs May, the great majority of his party members if not his voters are now radicalised pro-Europeans who would struggle to forgive even Saint Jeremy if he helped deliver a Tory Brexit.

So he will pretend to be constructive, turn up for talks, suggest he could vote for a crucial parliamentary motion if only the wording was better but he will always pull the plug in the end. This Prime Minister is not known for anticipating events, but even she presumably knows this. …

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