Peter Mandelson’s New Labour is back! So you might have thought from the Commons when, on the first day back after the summer recess, the Opposition completely changed the position it held on Brexit just a few weeks ago.
Back then it accepted the result of the EU referendum. Now it wants us effectively to stay in the EU.
The transformation is miraculous, a quick-change to rival anything you will see in a West End farce. Opticians could use Labour in eye tests: what can you see now, the circle or the square? Tory MPs said Labour Remainers had turned into ‘Reversers’.
Brexit Secretary David Davis was giving an update on EU withdrawal negotiations. This being the first day of term, lots of members wore suntans
Brexit Secretary David Davis was giving an update on EU withdrawal negotiations. This being the first day of term, lots of members wore suntans. James Gray (Con, Wilts N) had grown a grizzly beard. The Speaker had been at the Ambre Solaire.
Anna Soubry (Con, Broxtowe) had had a gamine haircut and Tom Tugendhat, newly elected chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, had grown in avoirdupois.
Mr Davis began with a trick, pausing theatrically after he said there had been ‘important progress’ in his negotiations with his Brussels counterpart, wannabe matinee idol Michel Barnier. Blairite MPs laughed long and arduously at Mr Davis’s claim, anxious to signal their derision.
Mr Davis, far from being taken aback by their scorn, retorted: ‘I rather wondered if they would fall for that.’
He went on to give a list of agreements reached on pensions and healthcare (the European Health card arrangement for British tourists visiting the Continent will continue, he said). ‘I wonder how Labour will explain to the public that they don’t care about those,’ mumbled Mr Davis. That boy could do with elocution lessons.
When Tory MPs mentioned the electorate (arguing that Labour had stiffed the voters in so quickly reneging on their election manifesto promises to be pro-Brexit), the claque