Many Labour MPs who have built up a national profile and reputation because of their resistance to Brexit are facing a tough choice this weekend: which do they like least, Jeremy Corbyn or Brexit?
It’s hardly a surprise that “Blairites” are the most likely to support Britain’s continued membership of the EU – Blair himself was never happier than on the European stage and even today his occasional speeches in the European Parliament do good trade on YouTube.
Contrast that with Corbyn, who – as The Red Roar recently revealed – likes nothing better than to tell small meetings of leftists in draughty halls than the EU was a conspiracy dedicated to US global hegemony.
But now we are moving into the end game in Labour’s great Brexit debate. Corbyn has made his play and effectively backed Brexit and (not so publicly) ordered Len McCluskey to negotiate a deal.
The temptation for a few – especially those where relations with the local party have broken down – is to lash out at Corbyn’s anti-Europeanism and use it as a ramp to prepare for the launch of a new party. If you have been the victim of the vile antisemites that have fouled the party in the last three years the desire to free yourself from pretending you have something in common with these racist scum has never been greater.
But if what you really want to do is stop Brexit the choice for the overwhelming majority will be to stay for now – already Corbyn’s offer to the Tories is starting to fall apart under questioning and few really believe the Leader could credibly order his MPs to vote for May’s deal: “like Ramsay MacDonald without the dignity,” says one.
Corbyn might not be forced to back down and clinging on might mean being tarnished with his brush if Labour really do enable a Tory Brexit. But politics was never meant to be easy.