David Miliband is delusional if he thinks he can block Brexit

Brian Monteith
Conservative Party Annual Conference - Day Two
David Miliband is back, fighting for Britain to stay in the Single Market (Source: Getty)

In case you have forgotten who David Miliband is, let me help: there is a photo of the former foreign secretary holding a banana.

It captured in one surreal image everything you need to know about him and why you should not listen to a word he says.

No intelligent or self-respecting politician would be caught by photographers holding a banana in public view, never mind posing with one. It opened him up to ridicule, rude jokes, and summed up his poor judgement.

Read more: IMF: Brexit transition agreement ‘mitigates risk’ of chaotic UK departure

The boy David (the other Miliband that lost out on the Labour leadership because his brother was more conniving and less complacent) has come back from exile to join up with Nick Clegg and Nicky Morgan and save us from Brexit, by convincing us that we must stay in the Single Market.

This will be done by joining the European Economic Area, which is formed by the remaining EU27, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland. In shorthand it’s called the “Norway Option”.

Their agenda already looks dead in the water, as Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out Labour supporting such a plan in parliament. It would seem that Labour would need to change leader for Miliband to get his way, and as he’s not even an MP anymore, somebody else would need to challenge Corbyn.

That didn’t work out well the last time, did it?

Another problem is that the Norway Option is not even popular in Norway.

Recent polling shows that Norwegians believe they would be better off with an EU free trade agreement, rather than accepting open borders with the EU under freedom of movement, complying with the majority of its laws, and handing over billions of kroner for the privilege.

The Norwegian people have noticed that Canada’s trade deal gives mutual market access without being in the customs union, without migration, and without a bill to pay – while being in Nato takes care of defence concerns. That looks much more attractive – and also just happens to be the draft of what the EU is prepared to offer the UK.

If that is good enough for the Canadians, it would be much better for the Norwegians, and should be good enough for us, especially if we can bolt on some agreements about financial services.

I wager that Miliband is not really interested in keeping the UK in the Single Market, or even getting the best deal outside the EU. He is interested in keeping Britain in the EU altogether – and reviving his political career.

Perhaps Miliband should reflect on that career a little more deeply. This is, after all, a man who cared so much for us Brits that he left a position of some political influence and abandoned his constituents to take up a fresh professional path in New York.

As foreign secretary, he signed the EU’s Lisbon Treaty with Gordon Brown, reneging on his government’s word to offer a referendum on it. Had we voted to ditch the Lisbon Treaty back then, we might have stayed in a looser EU.

Instead, we left once we realised how bad it had become. His judgment isn’t really that sharp, is it?

And now he’s back, fighting for Britain to stay in the Single Market.

Is this the same David Miliband who said during the referendum campaign in May 2016 that voting to leave the EU would mean leaving the Single Market?

Is this the same Nick Clegg who said the same?

Is this the same Nicky Morgan who, in July 2016, backed the leadership bid of Michael Gove – who was supporting leaving the Single Market and customs union – because she thought someone from the Leave campaign should be the Prime Minister?

Yet here we are, two years later, and they are still trying to reverse a decision taken in good faith.

Likewise, the Scottish parliament can stamp its feet and reject Theresa May’s Brexit Bill, but neither it nor Miliband, Clegg and Morgan are going to convince the British people to change their mind.

Even a second referendum would mean joining a new EU far different and less attractive from what we are leaving – just as Italy risks bringing it to its knees.

After we leave the EU’s customs union, we will be able to import cheaper bananas from any country we want, having abandoned Brussels’ tariffs that make foods more expensive.

If David Miliband really can’t see that, then he is better going back to his various well-paid charity jobs, and leaving the political slapstick to his brother.

Read more: Jeremy Hunt warns Boris Johnson over undermining Brexit negotiations

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