With just 10 days to go until Britain votes on its membership of the European Union, how much ammunition do the two sides have left? The Leave camp feel they’re on to a winner with talk of Turkey joining the EU, not least with immigration remaining top of the list of public concerns.
Number 10 will continue to insist that Turkish membership is not on the cards, but it’s difficult for Cameron to get away from his previously stated desire to “pave the road from Brussels to Ankara.” The Leave campaign will have to navigate a delicate path if it wants to present itself as a positive, outward looking alternative to the EU while simultaneously benefiting from concerns over immigration.
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Indeed, it is often pointed out that more people come to the UK from outside than EU than from within it. In other words, Brexit isn’t necessarily a silver bullet for cutting immigration. However, the Leave lobby may have a difficult path to follow on this issue but at least they can find it – which is more than can be said for the Labour party and its leader’s lacklustre efforts to get behind his own campaign to Remain.
Jeremy Corbyn told a Friday night comedy show that he was “about a seven” on a scale of one to 10 – where 10 represents a passionate Inner. Perhaps this explains why former PM Gordon Brown now feels the need to relaunch his party’s campaign to Remain. Britain Stronger in Europe, the official campaign to keep Britain in the EU, is today hosting what it calls a “Labour fight back.” What exactly they’re fighting back against isn’t made clear (growing support for Leave, one assumes) but various Labour figures (including Corbyn) will join Brown as he makes what we’re told will be a relentlessly positive vision for staying in the EU, aimed squarely at Labour voters.
The problem remains, however, that Labour is wildly out of touch with a large number of its own supporters on one of the key issues of this campaign: immigration. Can Labour’s bigwigs square this circle? Probably not. As if to prove this point, shadow chancellor John McDonnell will address a Refugees Welcome rally later this week, to the fury of many in his party. If Labour won’t listen to its base on this issue, you can bet that the Leave campaign will.