Policy papers and Labour’s U-turn do not address the question of responsibility.

It all looked so promising. After months of ambivalence from both the government and the Labour party, the summer break brought a flurry of pronouncements on Brexit. The government published seven position papers in as many days, and Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesperson, announced that it was now the opposition party’s policy to pursue a “soft” transition out of the EU.

The government’s supporters hailed a wealth of detail provided in the position papers and declared that the ball was now in the EU27’s court. Labour supporters, especially those who had begun to doubt Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to Europe, were cock-a-hoop that their party leader had revealed himself to be the anti-Brexit saviour they had hoped for. Surely these changes would help to unlock the negotiations in Brussels?

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