Today, the Times has published evidence that leading Conservative donors, who spent millions on the Brexit campaign, now believe that Britain may never leave the European Union at all.
This evidence supports Owen Jones’ view of a division in society “between a rapacious elite that has plunged Britain into economic and social crisis on one hand, and a majority that suffers the consequences on the other”.
One named donor was hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, founder of Odey Asset Management and a big financial backer of the campaign to leave the union, who has given more than £870,000 to money to pro-Leave groups, to Conservatives, Ukip and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s North East Somerset constituency in the last general election.
Odey had been betting heavily on a sharp fall in the value of UK government debt in April, according to investor documents seen by the Financial Times.
He revealed yesterday however (in the Times), that he was now betting on the pound to strengthen after Brexit failed, in the expectation that leaving the bloc would hit the UK economy hard.
Jeremy Hosking (below right), a fund manager who donated £1.69 million to the Brexit campaign and has given £375,000 to the Conservatives since 2015, said he was worried that the country would end up with something that was “not a Brexit deal at all”.
Terence Mordaunt, who donated £50,000 to the Brexit campaign and more than £30,000 to the Tories since 2003, said he feared that “we may never get out”.
He said: “I don’t think Theresa May’s deal actually fulfils what was promised in the referendum. It will take a long time and it gives a huge amount of power to Europe in the future. We may never get out.”
Billionaire Peter Hargreaves, who founded the financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown, gave £3.2 million to the Leave campaign, the second-biggest donation, said: “I have totally given up. I am totally in despair, I don’t think Brexit will happen at all.”
Government insists that Theresa May’s Brexit deal will give the UK “flexibility”.
Jeremy Corbyn asks: “But flexibility for whom?” He suggests:
- Flexibility for employers to exploit workers.
- Flexibility for big corporations to pollute our environment.
- Flexibility for multinational giants to undercut our neighbours and drive down standards everywhere.
In the Financial Times, lawyer David Allen Green points out some of government‘s actual or planned ‘constitutional trespasses’ over the past three or so years:
- Theresa May’s government prolonged the current parliamentary session over two years, to avoid a Queen’s Speech on which they could lose a vote.
- The government packed the standing committees (which scrutinise legislation) with Conservative majorities by procedural sleight of hand.
- A secretary of state repeatedly misled the House and its committees over the extent and existence of Brexit sector analyses reports.
- The government deliberately broke the Commons’ “pairing” convention when an opposition MP was on maternity leave so that the government could win a vote.
- The government committed itself to billions of pounds of public expenditure in a blatant bribe to the Democratic Unionist party for support.
- The government repeatedly seeks to circumvent or abuse the Sewel convention in its dealings with the devolved administrations.
- The government seeks to legislate for staggeringly wider “Henry VIII powers” so that it can legislate and even repeal Acts without any recourse to parliament.
- The government sought to make the Article 50 notification without any parliamentary approval and forced the litigation to go all the way to the Supreme Court (where it lost).
- The government employed three QCs to oppose the litigation on whether Article 50 could be revoked unilaterally (which it also lost).
- This government became the first administration in parliamentary history to be held in contempt of parliament following its refusal to publish the full Brexit legal advice issued by the Attorney General.
He ends: “Mr Bercow did more in allowing that vote to “bring back control” than any single leave-supporting MP has done since the referendum. The press should be celebrating that an over-mighty executive was halted and that the people’s representatives got to have their say”.
Not only does Corbyn “eschew the vitriol that is standard fare in modern politics” – he has consistently opposed Britain’s acquiescence in the insidious use of ‘soft power’ peddling the worst aspects of the American way of life and the well publicised outright and illegal US-led military aggression that seems to have become the norm.
Owen Jones, writing about Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership, ‘rings true’: “His Labour opponents are genuinely rattled; this is not going according to the script . . . The right, in triumphalist mode, is bemused and irritated that the left should even still exist, and will spin anything to its advantage. If Corbyn does badly, it will be taken as evidence that the left is all but extinct; if he does well, it will be evidence that Labour is unelectable”.
Building an alliance of low and middle-income people – the majority
He accurately describes Corbyn as being one of the most self-effacing and humble politicians in parliament, and certainly as the lowest expenses claimer among his colleagues. Pointing out that on issues from the living wage to public ownership, public opinion is on Corbyn’s side, he believes that the left could win by building an alliance of low and middle-income people: “that is, the majority of society” and offers some of the policies around which such an alliance could coalesce:
- A living wage is good for workers and for businesses, with better-off customers and taxpayers, who will spend less subsidising poverty wages.
- A homebuilding programme will reduce the social housing waiting list, create skilled jobs and waste less public money on paying private landlords.
- Public investment banks could support local businesses currently starved of loans.
- Concerns over immigration could be addressed through an “immigration dividend”: extra public money for services going to communities with higher levels of migrants.
- Middle-class commuters resent taxes spent on far higher subsidies than in the days of British Rail. Public ownership – this time democratically involving passengers and workers –would benefit them.
Jones rightly says that Corbyn faces incredible odds, but he thinks back to the people he grew up with in Stockport and briefly Falkirk, who need hope and better answers than those “peddled by a ragtag bunch of rightwing charlatans”. He ends:
“Maybe – just maybe – if the left gets its act together, that hope might finally be on offer”.
Read Owen Jones’ article here.