Enoch Powell would be happy

Yes, the contemptible Rivers of Blood Jeremiah would be feeling smugly vindicated, and Nigel Farage has got just what he wanted – Theresa May, the Secret Brexiteer, is putting immigration above all else as she leads us (without any parliamentary scrutiny) out of the dread clutches of Europe. Never mind trade: what matters is the alien count.

Should we be surprised? Didn’t she spend her years as Home Secretary trying (though not succeeding) to keep the foreign hordes at bay? Remember those shameful vans encouraging people to snitch on their non-British neighbours?

If Jeremy Corbyn isn’t undermined by rightwing colleagues such as Rachel Reeves – and that’s a huge if – we at least have two very different approaches to the incomer debate:

In the blue corner, a desperate keep-them-out policy, probably impossible to enforce but which has the consequence of destroying our financial arrangements with Europe and leaving us at a serious economic disadvantage. Very hard Brexit.

In the red corner, an acceptance that immigration has positive as well as negative effects, and welcomes the positives while (as outlined in Corbyn’s conference speech) tackling the negatives. If we really have to leave Europe, it would be a soft Brexit putting much less of a strain on our relationships with our friends across the Channel.

The optimists must hold their nerve or the nasty party will be taking us somewhere very nasty indeed.

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