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It seems the year in politics is to end with the same kind of story we’ve seen all through – manufactured outrage at a false claim about Jeremy Corbyn.

It has been Labour’s policy to respect the result of the European Union membership referendum ever since the votes were counted in 2016.

Labour set six tests for any decoupling deal with the EU, and it is in accordance with party policy that its MPs must vote against Mrs May’s deal; it does not pass those tests.

If the deal is voted down, Labour would then seek a general election on the basis that the vote showed Parliament has no confidence in the Conservative government – and with the aim of negotiating a new Brexit deal on a different timetable.

That does not mean Mr Corbyn’s Labour would not support a second referendum, or that it would support leaving the EU if one happened. If Labour fails to secure a general election, all options remain on the table – and if Labour wins a general election but fails to secure a deal that meets its six tests, again, all options remain on the table. It will be for the party’s membership to decide national policy.

Yet this was the headline in The Guardian on December 22:

The comment by Ealing Labour for Jeremy Corbyn is accurate with regard to the same newspaper’s earlier article.

So, in addition to my comments above, let’s remind ourselves of a few more facts about Labour’s policy on Brexit:

This is worth remembering, also:

But look at the reactions, and the people who are reacting. Here’s a centrist Labour MP:

An anti-Corbyn journalist and author:

Hugo Rifkind:

Professor Brian Cox:

And others. We’ll get to them after we consider the criticisms the story has attracted:

As the wave of manufactured outrage rose, other news outlets joined in the attack on Mr Corbyn:

The similarity between these stories was pronounced – down to the use of the same photograph and the fact that only a superficial effort was made to change the wording of the headline – that some have suggested that there has been a co-ordinated effort to discredit the Labour leader:

<em>Sky News</em> also got in on the act:

So the ‘centrists’ (if that’s what you want to call them) who attacked Mr Corbyn have found themselves attacked in turn – but commentators keen to promote the facts, rather than their nasty fiction.

So Guardian hack John Harris had the following welcome for his comments:

Former Liberal Democrat press officer turned SNP supporter James Melville came in for particularly strong criticism (and the reason is clear – he was claiming to have supported Mr Corbyn when this is highly questionable):

Carole Cadwalladr should have known better (we’ll discuss the validity of her criticism later, though):

Author (and Mastermind winner) Emma Kennedy earned this withering put-down by Tom Clark, author of Another Angry Voice:

And this from Owain Gardner:

Anti-Brexit campaigner Mike Galsworthy won himself this response:

But Harry Potter author JK Rowling deserves an article of her own for making this story about her. She reckoned the people who took issue with her for attacking Mr Corbyn were unreasoning supporters of the Labour leader, when in fact they were simply pointing out the facts about Labour Party policy. Her attempt at a Biblical writing style, to match her claim that Mr Corbyn’s supporters had turned him into a religious figure, attracted considerable scorn…

… but she still managed to attract an article of her own:

You’ll have to look up that one for yourself!

The message is clear: Mr Corbyn was reiterating a Labour policy that has been known for years and his critics – both writing the news articles and commenting on them – were trying to pretend it was a change of direction dictated by the Labour leader. The scorn they have received is, therefore, justified:

That being said, let’s return to Carole Cadwalladr’s concern about the legality of the EU referendum. She has a point – as do the following two commentators:

They are right. The EU referendum was a stitch-up and, to be honest, once even suspicions about this became evident, the whole process of leaving the EU should have been suspended, pending a full criminal investigation and a decision on whether the result is legitimate or not.

As this has not happened, I can only conclude that someone has a vested interest in ensuring that Brexit goes ahead before any decision is made. Someone in the Conservative government, that is. Labour has no power in this matter.

That is the real story.

But it will go unreported in the mainstream media, as long as the public can be persuaded to oppose Mr Corbyn on the basis of a flimsy lie.

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