The Times of London did an interesting profile of Dominic Cummings, the brain behind the Vote Leave movement in 2016 and now the most senior adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It said that right after winning the Brexit vote in 2016, he told supporters, “If we ever want to send up a signal that Westminster is cheating the vote and we need to form a new movement, you will see ‘the bat.’”
On Nov. 18, 2018, the day former prime minister Theresa May signed her unpopular Brexit agreement with the European Union, Cummings tweeted an image of the Batman logo with these words: “Please get in touch. DM is open.’’
Looks like Johnson got the message. By appointing Cummings, the “Batman,” as his most senior adviser, Johnson showed he is committed to delivering Brexit. But as we know too well, every “Batman and Robin” episode has a villain. For the current Brexit episode, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, seems to be the perfect Mr. Freeze.
Corbyn’s Socialism and Antisemitism
The 69-year-old Corbyn is Britain’s version of Bernie Sanders. Corbyn joined the Young Socialist party when he was in school and has been a fervent believer in socialism ever since. He championed many radical left ideas, including the belief that U.S. imperialism enslaved the Latin American countries. He “proclaims solidarity with socialist campaigns and governments in places such as Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and El Salvador” and feels very comfortable with “shar[ing] platforms with representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Like Sanders, Corbyn had been on the sidelines for decades, but in 2015, he unexpectedly won the leadership position of the Labour Party as socialism was revived in the United Kingdom, just like in the United States. Since then, he has pushed his party farther left into socialism.
Last year, at the Labour Party’s conference, he laid out a socialist agenda with the goal of fundamentally transforming the United Kingdom politically and economically, should he become the next prime minister. Similar to Sanders and his comrades, Corbyn wants to end capitalism, “nationalize public services and some major industries, and force all large firms to give their employees a share of the business and a voice on their boards.”
Under Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party has become not only more socialist but also more antisemitic. Since 2015, U.K. media reported hundreds of antisemitic incidents or allegations involving Corbyn’s allies and supporters. In 2018, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council held an event together to protest the growing antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Some longtime moderate Labour Party members share the Jewish community’s concern. They are especially disappointed that Corbyn “has consistently shown himself to be neither willing nor able to address the concerns of the Jewish community and many mainstream MPs.” A number of Labour Party MPs, such as Frank Field, resigned from the party because it has become “a force for antisemitism in British politics.”
Corbyn’s Fight Against Brexit — and Boris
Regarding Brexit, Corbyn led the Labour Party campaign against it in 2016. After the “Leave” camp won the referendum, Corbyn initially said the result must be honored. But in an interview with BBC recently, he told the interviewer he would “make a case to Parliament in September to get another referendum” and his party will “do everything we can to take no deal off the table or stop a damaging deal of the sort Hunt or Johnson propose.”
The U.K. media reports that Corbyn scheduled an emergency meeting with his comrades on Sept. 2, one day before Parliament comes back from summer recess. His plan is to push for a vote of no confidence in Johnson’s government, possibly within the first week of September. In his deputy John McDonnell’s words, Corbyn will go to Buckingham Palace in a taxi to tell the queen “we’re taking over” if Johnson loses a vote of no confidence in September.
If he forces Johnson out, Corbyn will form a “caretaker” government with other small leftist parties before a general election is triggered. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, indicated she is interested in joining Corbyn to build a “progressive alliance” and “lock Tories out of government.” But Cummings, the “Batman,” suggested if Johnson loses a vote of no confidence, he can refuse to resign and wait 14 days for the general election to be triggered.
The outcome of a general election will be a toss-up because both the Labour Party and the Tories have their own hurdles to overcome. It’s not a sure thing for Corbyn. A poll early this year shows “a majority of voters believe the Labour leader has been dishonest and ineffective in his handling of the [antisemitic] problem.” And, “[o]f voters who acknowledge Labour has an anti-semitism problem, almost a third (31%) say it will make them ‘much less likely’ to vote for the party.” Lord Charlie Falconer warned that Corbyn will never become the prime minister if voters fear he and the Labour Party are antisemitic.
The United States Can Help Anti-Socialism in the U.K.
For Johnson and the Tories, many Britons are anxious about a “no deal” Brexit — that Britain will leave the European Union and its single market and custom union without an agreement. The “Remainers” have been making predictions of what a “no deal” Brexit would look like: “shortages of fresh food and other consumer goods, problems with medical supplies and confusion over regulations and customs tariffs.”
While the final effects on Oct. 31, the Brexit deadline, may not be so apocalyptic, Johnson and his “Batman” must acknowledge some disruptions are likely to occur, and they need to convince voters that they have a good plan to address any problems.
As a longtime ally of the United Kingdom, the United States can and should help the Johnson administration fan off attacks from Corbyn and the Labour Party. The last thing we want to see is our strongest ally be taken over by socialists. President Donald Trump spoke before about a possible bilateral trade deal between the two countries. Recently, 45 Republican senators delivered a letter to the U.K. embassy in Washington, D.C., pledging:
If Britain leaves the EU with no deal, we will work with our administration, your government, and our friends in the EU to minimize disruptions in critical matters such as international air travel, financial transactions, and the shipment of medicine, food, and other vital supplies. We also will advocate for a new bilateral trade agreement, as early as your Brexit terms would allow, that reflects the centuries of open commerce between our nations.
A trade deal between the United States and United Kingdom will be a vote of confidence for Johnson and Brexiteers. It will provide a sense of certainty to Brits that they are not going to walk down the path to self-determination alone. Hopefully with the assistance of the United States, Johnson and his “Batman” will defeat the U.K.’s socialists and honor the majority of British people’s wish of exiting from the EU.