SHADOW Chancellor Rachel Reeves didn’t ignore the elephant in the room – but Brexit still only got a passing mention in her column (Labour is ready to offer a change for the better, The Yorkshire Post, July 2).
If economic growth in the last 12 years of Tory rule had matched Labour’s record, there would be £50bn extra for public services, with no need to raise taxes, says the Leeds West MP.
Government Ministers inevitably blame lost growth on things outside their control. But the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that Brexit is the cause of a four per cent loss of GDP – resulting in a £40bn loss in taxes raised.
Ms Reeves talks of “fixing holes in the Government’s patchwork Brexit”. But how?
What Ms Reeves and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer propose falls far short of the non-EU member, Norway-style Single Market and Customs Union access agreement which would enable us to rebuild trade with what will always be our most vital export market and source of goods.
Labour’s position doesn’t yet reflect current public opinion. YouGov has just reported the biggest gap yet – 14 per cent – between those who think that with hindsight we were wrong to leave the EU (50 per cent) versus right (36 per cent).
This confirms a steadily growing trend towards regret over Brexit.
The breakdown by parties shows that Labour supporters are even more anti-Brexit (83 per cent wrong versus 11 per cent right) than Liberal Democrats (72 per cent wrong versus 15 per cent right).
Ms Reeves undoubtedly sees private Labour Party polling focusing on marginal constituencies and former so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats.
But given the public surveys’ trend, it would be surprising if its private research isn’t also giving Labour reasons to rethink its current timid approach to Brexit. The country urgently needs a plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
By ignoring one of the main causes of the crisis Labour is failing to demonstrate that it understands the problem, let alone has the solutions.