In the last fortnight Len McCluskey has become the most powerful trade unionist since the days of Jack Jones and today holds the future not just of Jeremy Corbyn, or even Theresa May, but of Britain as a whole in his hands.
He’s got here because he is now said to be operating as Corbyn’s proxy in talks with May over Brexit. McCluskey and Corbyn are inextricably linked via the personages of Karie Murphy and Andrew Murray – both of whom are anxious to see the UK quit the EU and have pressed hard for Labour to support Brexit. McCluskey offers the perfect cover for all of this.
McCluskey has no specific negotiating mandate from his union, and his conference actually adopted policy to keep a ‘People’s Vote’ as an option, but that does not seem to be weighing in his mind.
Corbyn, though, seems to be dithering between whether to explictly back Brexit or just hope that so-called Labour rebels – who include long-terms allies like Denis Skinner as well as fringe figures on the far-right of the PLP like Kate Hoey – push Brexit over the line.
With even official sources admitting resignations from the party are averaging 6,000 a month, largely because of Brexit, it’s a high stakes game.