LABOUR has come up with a policy on Brexit and it has people pleased or annoyed depending on where they stand on the soft to hard spectrum.
I was going to write ‘excited’ instead of ‘pleased’ but honestly the notion of anyone being excited by anything to do with Brexit is a stretch. The only ones moved to excitement are old-school, Empire-loving Tories or readers of the Daily Express.
Incidentally, that newspaper has a story that, ahem, really sucks this morning. It reports a surge in vacuum cleaner sales as shoppers allegedly rush to beat an EU ban on the most powerful models. “Buy now while stocks last,” the paper says, no doubt going red in the face and spilling its gin. “It’s a British person’s inalienable right to have a vacuum cleaner of such ferocity that is sucks up your underlay and your floorboards.”
That last sentence suggests a sense of humour not always to be found in the Express, so good on whoever wrote those words. But the story still sucks. Any green-minded, energy-saving suggestion from the EU has always been slapped down from such crusty quarters.
Do you remember all the fuss about how “they want to ban our light bulbs”? Those were the old incandescent light bulbs and the prospect of no longer being able to buy them sent certain people into a, well, incandescent rage. True, the new bulbs were slow to cast light at first, but now they’re fine and bright as you like, and longer lasting, too.
If you peruse the files there is probably a Daily Express leader article bemoaning the way Europe wants to “ban our candles” by forcing us to use electric light instead.
Anyway, Labour and Brexit. Here’s the problem I have with this: everything to do with Brexit is just so mind-numbingly and arse-achingly boring. Hugely important, yes; likely to shape this country for generations to come, for sure; but my God has there even been a time when a single matter has dominated the national conversation with such relentless boredom?
It’s as if a topic once obsessed over only by all the boring people on the dull fringes has, by evil alchemy, become the one topic of conversation.
Labour’s new preference is for a soft Brexit. This is good news for those of us who never wanted to leave in the first place. It also puts the government in a tight spot, as Mrs Maybe’s majority is thin and plenty of her MPs are pro-Europe.
Until now, Labour has slithered and slid over Brexit, making mischief for the government without being clear what, if any, policy the party had.
That has now changed and the policy launched in yesterday’s Observer by Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, sounds like a good move. Labour now says that as Britain leaves the EU, it must remain inside the single market and the customs union for a transitional period.
The timespan is yet unspecified, with Sir Keir offering the ambiguous phrase that this period with be “as short as possible but as long as necessary”.
Sounds sensible to me, but already Labour MPs in the midlands and north where the Breixt vote was high are complaining – along with Tory-supporting, Brexit-bound newspapers such as The Sun.
But at least Labour’s long-awaited position on Brexit is sensible and offers some reassurance – especially in the face of the delusional dreams of this weakened government as we amble towards the cliff edge on one of Mrs Maybe’s hikes.
That said, Brexit is still boring beyond belief, isn’t it?
Anyway, the sun is shining on a bank holiday by some oversight of the climate control committee. Later we are going to watch the soapbox challenge on Micklegate. This is the only relatively steep hill in the centre of York and homemade carts rattle down the incline, given a head start by an acute ramp.
Last year’s inaugural race was great fun. And if you happen to be looking for a passing metaphor for Britain nowadays, a headlong rush down a steep hill on a handmade cart with the danger of the wheels coming off sounds like a reasonable place to start.