Dear Sir Keir
Sixty years of following politics fairly closely has made me understand the truth of Otto von Bismarck’s oft-quoted remark that “politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.” The political world is tempestuous and dangerous and it requires skilful navigation to survive it. Our last four Prime Ministers were not beaten by the electorate but by their own failures of navigation and by their inability to apply Bismarckian pragmatism.
So I understand why you feel the need to go against what you must know to be true – that Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster for Britain. It’s no surprise that since David Cameron was brought down by hubris over his Referendum failure his three successors have also been sucked into the vortex of danger and not survived. In all four cases it was attempts to do the impossible that brought them down. Each case was different, but there was a common theme.
You know, and I think you’re right, that if you give the utterly unprincipled Conservative Party a sniff of an opportunity to label you as the Remainer that (of course) deep down you still are, your chances of getting rid of them in a General Election would almost certainly be fatally damaged. This is not because the country is still predominantly a “Leave” place – there are plenty of signs of a shift in public opinion. No the reason is that it would be an open goal which would fundamentally change the character of the Election debate and we’d be fighting again the binary “In versus Out” battle that dominated or politics for too long.
In 2024, unless there is a dramatic shift, you should become Prime Minister. I hope that you do. Labour’s manifesto will be a struggle to put together, though, if it relies in part on your telling the electorate how you’d “make Brexit work”. You know that if this was possible the nation over the past six years would have found a way to do it. The Labour Party would have a plan and would have told us about it. You have no plan, and you know it, and you know that you won’t suddenly find one. There’s more chance of finding life on Mars.
I am disappointed by the strength of your above referenced statement because , frankly, I’m tired of being lied to. Of course there is a case for going back into the EU. That case is being made eloquently daily by many of us. Of course there is a case for returning to the single market and the customs union. Countries like Switzerland, Iceland and Norway (not in the EU) benefit from doing this all the time. They are not fools.
Of course there is a case for the Four Freedoms, including that of Movement. British citizens are uniquely disadvantaged by restrictions on our movement and employment that citizens of no other European country have to endure. And, what’s more, our public services would hugely benefit if we can welcome workers from 30 countries again. Why on earth would we choose to perpetuate this absurdity?
Yes there is a xenophobia still around in Britain that has led us to close our doors, abandon free trade and destroy participating in the across Europe cooperation that every other country benefits from. But leaders are supposed to lead not follow and certainly not follow the isolationist tendency if it would lead to further damage to our economy and our reputation. Which it will. Stand up for what you believe in and what is right. Make the case Sir Keir.
One thought on “An open letter to Sir Keir Starmer”
Great letter Paddy. I hope he reads it. His statements on Brexit are a punch in the solar plexus of hope. The idea of the two main political parties in the UK being so anti-European is depressing.
I will continue to support the Lib Dems and SNP as best I can. However, I do believe Starmer will be the next PM and the very thought of Brexit continuance in the face of all the evidence of economic decline makes me wonder what the point of voting really is.