Why is Corbyn Pro-Brexit?

Jeremy Corbyn, despite what many supporters believe, has historically been opposed to the EU.  When this is discussed however generally rail nationalisation is raised as an example and it’s then pointed out that the EU doesn’t prevent state owned railways.  It’s then also pointed out that Labour policies aren’t really that radical and that many Scandinavian states have similar left wing policies.

This leads to the hope that either a) Corbyn isn’t really pro-brexit or b) as soon as he understands that he can nationalise the railyways or utilities or have a larger State under the Single Market rules he’ll be OK with the EU again.

The mistake here however is in assessing “Corbynism” through a 21st century political lens, in thinking of his beliefs in terms of “normal” 21st century economic thinking.  This is a flawed approach as Corbyn’s ideas were formed in the 1970s and haven’t changed much since and in fact his traditional aims & objectives go further than nationalising the railways or even the power companies.  Labour is a socialist party, however “pure” or “traditional” socialism isn’t just about equality or improving the social contract.


In fact, the traditional aim of socialism is to control the “means of production” or “the commanding heights” to quote Lenin.  This wasn’t even an unusual policy for Labour back in the day.

In July 1945, Labour came into power totally committed to nationalization and determined to conquer the “commanding heights” of the economy, having borrowed the term from Lenin by the mid-1930s

Tony Benn, a key socialist from Labour’s past and Jeremy Corbyn’s guru, advocated a break from the EU back in 1975 (source: Wikipedia) for this very reason:

The Secretary of State for Industry in the Labour government, Tony Benn, wrote a paper …in 1975, …  “It described … Strategy B which is the real Labour policy of saving jobs, a vigorous micro-investment programme, import control, control of the banks and insurance companies, control of export, of capital, higher taxation of the rich, and Britain leaving the Common Market“.

With Britain in economic crisis in October 1976, Benn put forward the (Alternative Economic Strategy) …  “the protectionist course which is the one I have consistently recommended for two and a half years…protectionism is a perfectly respectable course of action. It is compatible with our strategy. You withdraw behind walls (in a “Siege economy”) and reconstruct and re-emerge”.

Yes it’s true that this was 40 years ago, but this is how far back Corbyn’s political roots go.  It’s well known that he strongly admired Tony Benn and his policies and has carried most of them forward.


What would this “State control” mean in practice? To take an example, if a major car manufacturer pulled out of the UK as a result of Brexit, a “Jobs first Brexit” might actually take over the car plant and pump in Government money to keep the plant going.

This would be Corbyn’s approach – you might even agree with it. The issue though is that now the state is supporting Car Manufacturing.  Other car companies would be at a disadvantage.  Steel production would follow, then Banks & perhaps Insurance Services and other service industries, the new “commanding heights”

This may be a society you are happy with, millions would be.  The Labour Leadership would be.  It’s one way of “fixing” things in our society.  But it’s not compatible with being in the EU or the Single Market.

Corbyn quote2

This is because problems arise when you try to sign a trade deal (with the EU or anyone else) or try to attract inward investment.  The UK economy is no longer a level playing field and cannot therefore operate fairly in the Single Market.  Other countries would not sign comprehensive trade deals with a county which is subsidising its industries – they simply wouldn’t be able to compete with state supported UK companies and trade is ultimately about competition.

This matters if you want to be an outward facing country however it doesn’t necessarily matter if you want to create a “socialism in one state” bubble society.

This is the root of why Corbyn, McDonnell and others are opposed to the EU and always have been at a very fundamental level. This “traditional socialist”,  heavily subsidised government owned economy just wouldn’t work within the Single Market, it would create unfair competition.  It’s also why comparisons of Corbynism with Scandinavian countries are a false measure.  Corbyn thinking is more geared towards the original Venezuela model even if Labour party policy appears non-radical.

Therefore, talk of “he wouldn’t be that crazy to push for a Hard Brexit, it would cause major economic harm” is well wide of the mark.  If you believe that the economy is fundamentally unfair & broken, top to bottom, in its assumptions & operation then you will be entirely comfortable with a period of destruction if you believe a better society will arise from the ashes.  Of course your supporters may not be entirely comfortable with that future or the interim pain which is why its not shouted from the rooftops as a plan.

The reality is, most of us assume Corbynism is about more money for NHS, Tax credits, welfare.  It’s not.  Corbyn & his team believe UK society is fundamentally broken and needs to be reformed along pure socialist lines to address its issues.  You may well agree however it should be noted such a model has never worked well in other countries, and such a country would find it hard to function as a trading nation (as part of the WTO for example).

It may be a “fairer” society, but it would also likely be a poorer one, with far less opportunity & flexibility. However it is a model, very different from ours, and our society does have issues.

The point being, don’t expect Corbyn to change his mind any time soon on the EU, or think that the ability to nationalise railways will convince him.  His antipathy towards the EU is long standing.  In fact it’s ironic that now both the hard left in Labour and the hard right in the Conservatives want to leave the EU for the same basic reason, to radically alter how our society & economy operates (Singapore low regs/low tax economy vs State owned bubble society).

For the past 2 years Jeremy Corbyn has attempted to give the impression of being pro-european because it was needed to maintain his position, but supporters need to look back to his past as his (now deleted) history says otherwise.


16 thoughts on “Why is Corbyn Pro-Brexit?

  1. I found this an interesting read.

    It’d be great to look at the larger party into understanding why they are following Corbyn’s pro-brexit stance especially seeing as how they are not following Corbyns anti-Trident stance and that the general party stance before the referendum was remain. To a very strong remainer like me, it just looks like a bid for popularity but I think it would soften my disdain of Labour if there was a good reason for that switch,


  2. Germany and China subsidise many industries and do a roaring trade with other countries. There are other types of subsidies other than cash injection indirect subsidies such as indirect subsidies and of course tariff protection. To say that if the UK subsidies its industries it will not be able to trade is rather ignorant as other countries, in and out of the EU, subsidise certain industries and trade with other countries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t say it can’t be done under certain guidelines because of course it can. I also know that some EU countries bend the rules.

      The point is Corbyn isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer AND he wants maximum flexibility, plus he has a historic antipathy to the EU ever since Benn told him it was rubbish.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think the author is implying that it would be wholesale nationalisation.

      Even Germany doesn’t do that. China on the other hand is slowly heading towards a crash. You can’t keep rigging the market forever, which is what they are doing – and which is where ultimately Communism failed.


  3. Corbyn isn’t likely to give us worst government then we have had since Blair! At least he’s not in thrall to corporate greed and he won’t be openly privatizing the NHS like disMay and Co.
    Let’s give the man a chance.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The article contains a lot of speculation. First of all Corbyn is not alone in determining Labour policies, including on the EU. Secondly, Corbyn is trying to hold together a coalition of two parts of the Labour voters – those who voted to remain in the EU and those who voted to leave. Hence the ambiguity in Labour’s position on what the EU negotiations should lead to – other than ‘the best possible deal to save jobs and the economy’ – which is really membership of the single marked. ‘Socialism in one country’ is long dead – as Trotsky explained at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the Single Market is far from perfect and leftwingers, the Greens and LibDems should point out its shortcomings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “‘Socialism in one country’ is long dead – as Trotsky explained at the beginning of the 20th century.”

      But Corbyn et al are not Trotskyists are they? I thought they were Stalinists. New labour has its roots in Trotskyism (which is something I was surprised to find out about)


      1. Please don’t confuse Corbyn with New Labour…
        The Blairite NL Establishment would rather risk losing an election than support Corbin to win one. An insider described it to me as a “battle for the soul of the Labour Party.”


  5. I don’t know where you get the idea that Corbyn is aiming for a socialist state. He’s only proposing to nationalize trains and utilities. He has no made no mention of taking industry into public hands though. He aspires to a balanced economy with a mixture of publicly owned services and privately owned enterprise as opposed to the current orthodoxy to privatize as much as possible including healthcare. In other words he’s a moderate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The 2017 Labour manifesto may be moderate in the way you describe, but that doesn’t mean Corbyn and McDonnell are moderate or that they have no ambitions to go any further than what’s in that manifesto. Besides, if Corbyn is now a moderate, he must have moved right, because he used to support Tony Benn’s ideas and be further left than Michael Foot.


  6. Excellent article, clear and exposing the dishonesty in both Tory and (sadly) Labour positions in Europe. Demonstrates the clear need for a new pro-EU centre party or alliance as well as a bit of honesty in public discourse on the central issue of the day.


  7. The reality of politics is that whomever you vote for; you get the government.
    So we must expect anyone who gets elected to make compromises. Corbyn, If elected, will be able to make the kind of compromises that leading the Labour Party has required of him. Overall, his consistency is remarkable; so to accuse him of dishonesty seems unfair. And God knows we don’t want someone like Thatcher who found compromise almost impossible and used her commitment to market capitalism to take us right back to Victorian levels of inequality and social justice.
    Equality need not mean uniformity. Social justice does not have to mean one size fits all. Like I said, let’s give the man a chance.


  8. Perhaps someone could enlighten me. Why is Turkey a member of the Customs Union since 1995 and yet doesn’t have ‘free movement’ enforced on it? And it is free to do bilateral deals? And it is a recipient of EU funds in the billions? Its the EU’s 4th largest export market…true… but the UK is the EU’s largest export market. Whats going on with people insisting we have to lose control of our laws, borders etc.. when Turkey gets away with it!


    1. Turkey has been trying to get full membership, it is not in a position where the EU are not enforcing free movement on it, Turkey would be happy with free movement it is the EU denying it because Turkey is not willing or able to accept other aspects of membership.

      Free movement and EU citizenship have been part of the ambition of the original community since the initial discussions in 1957, we chose not to apply because of that and because of other restrictions in shared sovereignty, so we set up the European FREE TRADE Association instead, having set it up in 1959 we stabbed our partners in the back by abandoning them to apply to join EEC in 1961, we only didn’t join because De Gaulle vetoed us as he thought we were not truly committed to European partnership, with hindsight he was correct. We then begged please can we get in and France said no again, and we then applied a third time, promising we really did understand it was more than just a free trade zone, and we were allowed in in 1973. We have then spent 40 years arguing for opt-outs or special status within the Union.

      We are now back at the original argument of 1958, can we have a special deal just for us because we are special, we like all the free trade bits, and we like the ability for us to retire in the sun, but can we keep the foreigners out please!


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