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Jeremy Corbyn: EU Savior?

November 26, 2015

The possibility of a Brexit may not have been the most pressing threat before, but it is almost gone now. And we can thank euroskeptic Jeremy Corbyn for saving the Union.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, greets British PM David Cameron in September 2015
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, greets British PM David Cameron in September 2015. Credit: Independent Magazine (UK). 

Corbyn’s Labour Party Struggles to Gain Traction

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn may be the best thing that could have happened for the European Union. And he doesn’t even need to step into 10 Downing Street for his impact to be felt.

Since Corbyn took over as leader of the opposition in Britain, support for his Labour Party has plummeted, from holding roughly dead-even with David Cameron and the Tories to a constant seven-point deficit in opinion polling.[1]

Cameron’s government scored a stunning victory in May’s elections, earning a governing majority by the skin of its teeth. Combined with Corbyn’s ascension, Cameron’s ability to retain office without a governing coalition has enabled a profound shift back to stability for the Euro Zone.

Although the rise of Nigel Farage forced him to temper his tone, Cameron has long been an opponent of a potential Brexit. However, due to British public opinion leaning heavily toward leaving the EU and pressure to remain in office, Cameron had to find a way to was forced to appease those voices.[2] This began to change with the 2015 elections.

First, Cameron was able to secure a hold on 10 Downing without relying on Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, securing his spot atop the government. Second, following Ed Milliband’s resignation, Labour went through an internal crisis. Jeremy Corbyn emerged, stunning the political establishment. And yet, the traditionally anti-EU MP has proven an unexpected boon to the Euro Zone.

Brexit: A Possibility of the Past?

As the public has turned its back on Corbyn, Cameron’s ability to move away from euroskepticism has increased. Cameron is no longer bound to the far right. Farage has diminished as a threat, and Labour cannot claim hold to the center; this has allowed Cameron to move away from the right, back to his natural spot in favor of membership in the EU.

While he must still pay lip service to his backbenchers with anti-EU rhetoric, Cameron’s tone has softened lately, providing European leaders with openings he can take back to the island to pacify those who want Britain to retract from the continent.[3]

The conversation has shifted from leaving the European Union to addressing how Britain can stay.[4] At the end of the day, this comes down to Jeremy Corbyn. If Cameron wants to become the second Prime Minster since Margaret Thatcher to win a third term at 10 Downing, he needs control of a base. That base has once again become the center, giving him a point of leverage he has lacked since his ascension in 2010.

British Net Immigration and Public Opinion Poll on Brexit 

Recent YouGov poll documenting British public opinion on Brexit. SourcE: ONS & YouGov.

A YouGov poll in October found a net -8 favorability for Corbyn, while 58 percent of the respondents think that Labour has lost touch with the British population.[5] Corbyn absolutely has time to change this conversation. But, for now, Cameron’s position is secure. 


References:

  [1] https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/political-monitor-november-2015-tables.pdf

  [2] http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/10/graphics-britain-s-referendum-eu-membership

  [3] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-10/david-cameron-eu-speech-what-he-said-and-what-he-meant

  [4] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/11/world/europe/cameron-britain-eu-membership.html?_r=0

  [5] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/Jeremy_Corbyn/11906103/Jeremy-Corbyn-receives-the-worst-ratings-for-a-Labour-leader-in-60-years.html

PENN WHARTON PPI
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