Tonight Boris drops a bombshell. Approve an election and I will give time to scrutinise the Withdrawal Act, so we can leave in an orderly fashion with a deal first. Labour, whose shuffling ambiguities and nuanced murmurings to cover its own disagreements over Brexit have already cost it dear in the polls, putting it 15 points behind the Tories in the latest, with Corbyn’s leadership score the lowest for any leader ever recorded, have been outsmarted and have no choice than to agree. They must then fight, with all their enormous organisational superiority, a doorstep campaign that focuses on the issues which matter to real people. Brexit is a battle for Boris and Farage. Labour can still reverse the tide and win.
But if Labour bumble about and bottle out, the Lib Dems, Farage and a left of centre Tory offer will cream them. The party will deserve what it gets, but it will be a terrible betrayal of the ordinary people of our country who deserve rescue from the most pernicious economic model since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
Labour’s only other option, which would show a welcome bit of bottle, would be to table an immediate motion of no confidence in the Boris government, win it, put Corbyn in Downing Street, organise an election on its terms, with Brexit either done on the current deal tweaked, or on hold until after the election, in which a decider referendum would be part of its offer. A big challenge, not without risk, but one in which the rewards of victory would be very high indeed.
We will know very soon where we are headed. It is certainly Boris’s moment, but in an era of surprises, it could just be Corbyn’s time. In 1945 nobody expected Attlee to win. Not even Attlee.