New polling commissioned by liberal anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain and anti-far right campaign Hope Not Hate says 59% expect the Brexit transition period will be extended.
Unfortunately that may be naive. The government is digging in further and further, saying it will not under any circumstances apply for an extension. The deadline for applying is 30 June — less than five weeks. Labour and the unions remain silent at best, with Keir Starmer saying he is “not calling for an extension”.
Starmer, whose popularity with Labour members and others was built partly on the basis of an anti-Brexit, internationalist reputation, is (whatever his motivations) effectively collaborating with the Tories’ plan to push through a hard Brexit with no democratic scrutiny.
The Lib Dems are preparing to put a parliamentary bill for a two-year extension of the transition. But even aside from the substantial Tory majority, it is not at all clear that Labour will vote for it.
Time is very short. It may already be too late. But an about-turn from Labour could still blow up what is potentially a difficult and divisive issue for the Tories.
Every week, virtually every day, brings some new difficulty. Ministers have just had to concede that their planned soft border in the Irish Sea — already a cumbersome, messy and probably unstable scheme — will not be ready by 2021. That implies a very hard border including some customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Or what?
The internationalist left, and all those who can see the importance of stopping the Tories’ drive for No Deal, need to continue organising and fighting — to maximise the chance of things blowing up before 30 June, and the chance of reopening the issue afterwards if not.