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21 September 2018

The Brexit crisis shows the pointlessness of asking whether we’ve seen “peak Corbyn”

The reality is that we simply don’t know enough about how British politics will look even in December. 

By Stephen Bush

Political debate often feels like it takes place in hermeneutically sealed chambers, but British politics at the moment provides a particularly surreal example.

On the one hand, there is the ongoing debate about whether or not the June 2017 election was as good as it gets as far as Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral appeal goes. A dire set of polling for the party, showing a collapse in the Labour leader’s own ratings, has just been published by the Evening Standard, adding further fuel to the debate.

I’ve written about why I don’t buy the “peak Corbyn” thesis myself before, and I don’t want to go over old ground. But the whole debate feels both arid and surreal, as it ignores the other big question in British politics: which is whether or not the Conservative Party can get through the final stage of the Brexit process without suffering economic damage, political damage or both.

We know that there is a very real possibility of a full-blown economic and political crisis before the year is out – and we should therefore know that any conversation about how the Opposition is doing, and its prospects next time, are likely, one way or another, to rest on very different foundations by March 2019 than they do today.

It’s simply far too early to talk about Labour’s political prospects – or the chances of, or impact caused by a new party, for that matter – when we know that there is the very real prospect of a major shift in the political ecosystem, one that could very easily upend politics as we know it in major ways.

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