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The significance of being neutral

Being 'neutral' in any people's vote may be a game-changer.

We suspect there is a nervousness creeping into the Tory party election HQ.   They have, it seems, a commanding lead in the opinion polls.  It should see them through.  Could Jeremy Corbyn's Labour pull it back?

If you set out to paint your opponent as 'unfit' to be prime minister, this creates a problem when the more voters see him, he comes across as eminently reasonable.   This is what happened with Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.  It could happen again, and the next week will indicate whether this is happening.

Since the election was called,  Labour has been closing the gap, slowly.   Their manifesto launch went well, and Jeremy Corbyn has performed well in both the head-to-head debate with Boris Johnson and on  BBCQT.   Boris bumbled his way through.  There wasn't exactly a knock-out blow, but focusing on Brexit is wearing thin when voters are beginning to express concern about other pressing issues.

No doubt, Corbyn will be attacked for announcing he would be 'neutral' in a new Brexit referendum.  "How could a leader be neutral on such a big issue?"

Yet, it is a perfectly reasonable position.  Labour in this election is reaching out to both sides of the Brexit divide.  Corbyn is adopting the Harold Wilson strategy.

If Labour forms a government under Jeremy Corbyn, then they would negotiate a customs union with the EU and alignment with the single market to protect jobs and standards.  This deal would then be put back to the people to decide if it is what they want.

There is every indication that such a deal could be negotiated reasonably quickly.   During the three years of Tory failure to find an acceptable settlement,  Labour also has been talking to EU counterparts.  A customs union would be a reasonable way forward.  It solves the problem of Northern Ireland without separation from the rest of the UK.

But when faced with the choice between that and remain, voters may well decide that the UK is better off in than out.  At least they will have that say.

This reaches across the divide and has at least some chance to begin pulling the UK back together.  It is in all our interests.

For those who have called for a People's Vote, the choice is now simple.  Only Labour can deliver it. For those who wish to remain and revoke article 50, then they also will have a chance to put their case.  For those who want to leave, they will also be able to make their case.

If Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister remains 'neutral' it would mean that the massive civil service machine will also remain neutral.

It will not seek to influence the decision with figures or claims on either side.  It could only provide the details of any deal.  That is reasonable.  The so-called 'scare' tactics evident in the 2016 referendum where the treasury was producing figures that appeared off the cuff would not happen again.

This is why being 'neutral' is so vital in reaching a result that the country could accept and move forward with.

But Labour would negotiate a deal that could reasonably be put to the British people.  It must be one that we could live with and which does not further divide the country.

The reasoned choice on Brexit in the election became clearer by Jeremy Corbyn's clear declaration on BBCQT that he would remain neutral on any deal put back to the people.

The significance of that is more than a personal position.  It speaks to the heart of fairness in any people' vote.

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