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The View from the Ridge: Corbyn’s Brexit gamble could lose him No.10

Cost: Corbyn’s path
to power is through
Leave constituencies

THIS was the week when Labour (finally) picked a side.

Jeremy Corbyn formally threw his weight behind a second Brexit referendum, saying: ‘We will back a public vote in order to stop a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no-deal outcome.’

In doing so he may have saved his party in the short term — but lost the next election.

By backing another vote, the Labour leader may have stopped the flow of defections to The Independent Group — the band of former Labour and Conservative MPs united around their support for Remain and desire for a second referendum.

The leadership may have been spooked by a surge in support for the Tiggers, such as a YouGov poll which found 28 per cent of those who backed Labour in 2017 could back The Independent Group. However, the decision comes at a significant cost.

The majority of Labour voters, members and MPs backed Remain in the referendum.

But Jeremy Corbyn’s path to power runs through Leave constituencies (an estimated 60 per cent of Labour seats voted Leave).

They need to win in Mansfield and Dudley rather than pile up votes in London seats already in the bag.

Leave voters are more likely to have grudgingly backed Labour in 2017 (unlike the enthusiastic Remain supporting membership) and the party needs to hang on to these voters if Jeremy Corbyn is to end up in No. 10.

As the parliamentary party splits and fractures, it’s easy to see why the leadership shifted its Brexit stance. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s a decision they will come to regret.

Fear of no-deal is finally ending months of indecision

After months of going round in circles about Brexit, this week something finally happened.

If MPs don’t back Theresa May’s plan on March 12, she will allow a parliamentary vote on whether to leave with no deal or extend article 50. As most MPs are against leaving without a deal it’s now extremely unlikely they we will leave with no deal on March 29. That’s the most certain I’ve been about anything related to Brexit for a long time!

Meanwhile Brexit supporters are getting increasingly twitchy. George Eustice, the farming minister who voted to leave the EU, quit the government yesterday saying he feared Brussels would dictate the terms of any extension, which would be a ‘final humiliation’.

The concerns of Brexit-supporting backbenchers could, however, work in the PM’s favour.

If enough of them back her deal because they are frightened by the prospect of a lengthy delay to Brexit it could end up scraping over the line. That is what No. 10 will be desperately hoping will happen.

Time to meet some different beasts…

This week the Sophy Ridge on Sunday team has been to a farm in Warwickshire to hang out with a bunch of animals…. There’s a joke about MPs in there somewhere but I’m too polite to make it.

Let’s hear it for the women, peeps

IT was brilliant to see Olivia Colman (or as I prefer to call her, Sophie from Peep Show) win an Oscar.

There are finally some fabulous parts being written for women — now surely it’s time for more of them to be nominated for best director too!

@SophyRidgeSky