2 Jun 2016

Corbyn and Irish Diaspora: all hands to EU pump

Jeremy Corbyn turned on the media at his speech in central London this morning when it was suggested it might be his fault that Labour supporters don’t know which way their party leadership is facing on Europe. The claim comes from the Remain campaign, supported by their own private polling and they express it with real concern.

He said it was the fault of the media for not covering his energetic nation-wide campaigning for the EU.

But his stump speech for Remain is not like anyone else’s and it reflects the concerns of a man who has long thought the EU is a bad idea.

Mr Corbyn attacked the “hype and histrionic claims” made in the campaign (and seemed to have fellow Remain campaigner George Osborne in his sights there). He slated the draft trade treaty with the US which he thinks gives a green light to rapacious US corporations wanting to slice contracts off bodies like the NHS.

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Listing the virtues of the EU he started with environmental protections, talking about cleaner beaches and protecting bees. He moved on to EU worker protections and said the danger was that a Tory government negotiating Brexit would rip them up.

Separate to all this, we take a look in tonight’s Channel 4 News, at Irish citizens voting in the EU referendum. An estimated half a million with Irish passports who are resident in the UK are entitled to vote in an arrangement (reciprocated for UK citizens in the Republic) that pre-dates the UK joining the EU.

The Irish government is making a push to make sure these people it hopes will come out for Remain are registered to vote.

In pursuit of that vote, the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s been over. He flew Ryan Air to Stansted to emphasize what his office insisted was a “private visit,” but check out the posters, campaign t-shirts and quotes for the cameras and you might be forgiven for thinking it looks a lot like a campaign visit.

That’s exactly the sort of thing a government wouldn’t normally tolerate from the leader of another country. It’s one thing to fire up Chancellor Merkel (today) to say a few pro-Remain words, likewise the Spanish and Dutch Prime Ministers (yesterday), not to mention President Obama and a cast of others. But actually campaigning with your own nationals on foreign soil in the hope they can swing the vote in another country would normally be the stuff to provoke a diplomatic incident.

We showed the footage of Enda Kenny to Leave supporter Dr Liam Fox, who last year tried to get the Irish citizens disenfranchised. He said this sort of intervention could only be happening with the encouragement of no. 10 and that, I understand, is exactly right.

The older generation of Irish migrants living in the UK won’t all vote as Enda Kenny would wish judging by our random sampling at the GAA game. They sounded a lot like many other voters in that age cohort.

Michael Kingston of “Irish for Europe” says British people might just be grateful to the Irish if it’s a narrow win and it’s the Irish wot won it. Liam Fox didn’t sound so sure.

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