Starmer’s 6 tests show exactly HOW strategically innumerate he was. Especially since anything he got right, was done by chance and Labour’s position is not comprehensive enough to guard against a total rejection by the Conservatives, who remember, pull all the strings and it’s all subject to crash out under TfEU regardless of the political position. I appreciate he has to manage and encourage all potential rebels in other parties.
This is probably worth a blog post in its own right for each individual one, since this is a topic that comes up time and time again. But the 6 tests are points of principle, some of which are unachievable and all of which are unmeasured. For brevity, all of them are subject to “how do we measure it?” weaknesses. So they all fail on that but to cross-reference the principles:
1. Ensuring a collaborative future relationship with the EU? This is achievable in some form.
2. Delivering the exact same benefits — Cannot be done outside the SM and CU. Something gives up something so this is an outright fail. Doing the number’s he’d have seen that.
3. Ensuring fair management of migration — This is mostly a point of UK law, since the problem with Windrush was pushed on British law, not European. Delivering Brexit is completely independent of that, unless the Tories remove the 1962, 1968 and 1971 immigration acts. That is something that is outside scope of negotiations and is not part of the Brexit deal, bar the removal of the EU Freedom of Movement.
4. Rights and protections to prevent a race to the bottom — If we got to zero tariffs on all goods coming in to the country, that’s an economic vassal state, since we can’t stop other countries charging tariffs on goods we export (nor any state, given MFN). He’s half-right that this is a bad thing, since if we go down the tax haven route, we end up in the same spot as the Cayman Islands or Panama, with an extremely wide poverty gap and it’s obviously a guard against Brexiteer threats of a tax haven, but at the same time, it isn’t a black or white position. And there is a second degree of freedom which he’s missed completely! It’s like folk not understanding that the square root of 4 is not just 2. It’s minus 2 as well.
There is a sweet spot and that requires WTO confirmation on TRQs amongst a number of other things. Plus, noting we lose all EU and 3rd country trade agreements the day we leave, assessing this point needs May to negotiate WTO positions AND conduct trade agreements, the latter of which cannot be done while we are a member of the EU. So he’s assessing ex ante what can only be negotiated ex post. This means NO Brexit deal can be tested until AFTER we leave. This is a colossal strategic blunder, not as clever plot, as Davis, May et al can then just state they met this, since at the time of debate, Starmer’s tests hadn’t shown a fail.
5. National Security — This one is deliverable, it just needs negotiation. Since frameworks for this exist in Interpol anyway.
6. Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK — This one is impossible, since economically, not every service is delivered in every city or region of the UK. Some are more rural, some are manufacturing based, some are heavily dependant on haulage and freight, some regions have higher levels of unemployment etc. this naturally means whatever happens, there is going to be a disproportionate disruptive effect to communities. This happened in my analysts, the government’s own analyses and 10 others of the 11 that occurred (the other is Minford). Conservatives are willing to burn 25% of rural farming. To put this in context, the conservatives closed 16% of coal mining in the early 80s and that had a devastating effect on those communities which persists to this day.
It also depends on the word “deliver” since that’s open ended. Does it mean doesn’t impact (impossible)? Does it mean makes them better off (the analyses show it’s impossible here too)? So every region will be worse off.
So overall, Labour is attempting to set itself up to reject all possible Brexit scenarios (and rightly so) but what he and the party haven’t done is strategically position themselves so as to reject Brexit outright. Indeed, they have left May with the get out of jail card as the final vote will only be to accept the deal or crash out (the Lords achievement, while useful, doesn’t override May. Remember, she’s been here before with the first Brexit Bill and they threatened the House of Lords with irrelevance). That leaves Labour open to it going to pot (which it will) and the Tories saying “Ah, we got the deal. Labour voted it down, so we crashed out and it’s Labour’s fault” and people will believe them, since we as a population are generally illogical and innumerate too and technically, they’d be right.