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Sadly for Remainers, Jeremy Corbyn has missed this crucial point about no-deal Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech about Brexit and the next election at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday morning, out of the blue, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in ages. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it. Which was odd, because just a couple of years ago, the song seemed to be everywhere. Like all the biggest novelty hits, it was catchy, it had simple lyrics, and young people loved it. Thousands of them sang along with it at Glastonbury. It was the sound of the summer.

But then, as is so often the case, it fell completely out of fashion. Those armies of young fans, it seemed, had simply melted away. They’d moved on. Perhaps they were embarrassed that they’d ever been fans at all. 

The song went: “Ohhhhhh, Je-re-my Corrrrrrr-byyyyyyyn…”

The people attempting to revive it were a small group of delegates at the annual Trades Union Congress in Brighton, where the old one-hit wonder himself had just been giving a speech. “Ohhhhhh, Je-re-my Corrrrrrr-byyyyyyyn…” they chanted, gamely. “Ohhhhhh, Je-re-my Corrrrrrr-byyyyyyyn…”

After only a few bars, however, the singing petered out. Maybe they’d forgotten the words.

Will the Labour leader ever again inspire the adulation he enjoyed for those few delirious months back in 2017? His approval rating has plummeted since then, and according to Opinium, Labour voters now prefer Jo Swinson, of the Lib Dems, to their own party’s leader.

Still, Mr Corbyn has defied the polls before, and at the TUC, he seemed in unusually high spirits. He, or at least someone on his team, had even come up with a little joke. “The last decade has seen the biggest squeeze on wages since the Napoleonic Wars,” said Mr Corbyn. “Personally I can’t remember that far back, so I tried to contact Jacob Rees-Mogg to check! But he was fast asleep again on the Government benches!” 

His audience tittered politely. 

As far as Brexit’s concerned, though, the Labour leader is still missing a trick. He railed against “Boris Johnson’s reckless no-deal”, which, he said, would “destroy jobs”, “push up food prices” and “cause shortages of medicines”. 

He neglected, however, to make surely the most powerful argument against no-deal. Namely: that it won’t get Brexit “done”. It isn’t a “clean break”, which will let us at last “move on” to “other issues”. Afterwards, Britain would still need to talk to the EU, to set up a trade deal, and to end any delays and shortages. But the first thing the EU would say, when our team arrived in Brussels, is, “Sure, of course we’ll talk. Just as soon as you’ve handed over that £39billion. And signed up to the Irish backstop.”

And so the cataclysmically tedious row we’ve endured for the past three years would drag on, and on, and on, and on… The same weary wrangling over the same weary issues… Divorce bill, backstop, divorce bill, backstop, until the monotony drove us all mad… 

“Project Fear” doesn’t seem to have worked. Perhaps it’s time for Remainers to try Project Boredom instead.