George Osborne used to claim that Labour wrecked the economy. He admitted that was a lie last year. Now he’s gone full circle.
The former Chancellor has conceded his lifelong political opponents are trying to save the economy from the havoc of a hard Brexit that his ex-colleagues in the Tory government are hell bent on.
In his Evening Standard editorial on Jeremy Corbyn’s big Brexit speech today, Osborne wrote:
“Labour is, as of today, seeking an economic arrangement with the EU that will ‘do the work of the current customs union’. That would ensure ‘tariff-free’ trade to continue with our largest export markets.
“It would largely resolve the issue of the Irish border, which the Government is not even close to doing.
“And it means Britain would remain part of the trade deals the EU has with the rest of the world that we helped land, like Canada and South Korea, and included in the future ones the EU is now negotiating with Japan, the US and China.
“The Labour leader has, with the smallest of nudges, manoeuvred himself into a more pro-business, pro-free trade European policy than the Tory Government.”
Leaders of big business lobbies that are not natural allies of Labour have agreed. CBI director Carolyn Fairbairn said of Corbyn’s speech:
“The Labour leader’s commitment to a customs union will put jobs and living standards first by remaining in a close economic relationship with the EU. It will help grow trade without accepting freedom of movement or payments to the EU.”
And Stephen Martin, head of the Institute of Directors, said:
“Labour has widened the debate today on the UK’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit, and many businesses, particularly manufacturers, will be pleased to hear the Opposition’s proposal to keep a customs union on the table.”
Any pigs spotted circling the skies tonight won’t be down to the strong winds…