Friday, 1 November 2019

Happy No Brexit Day

Well, well. I woke up this morning, looked out of the window, and – surprise! – we’re still in the EU. Instead of a do-or-die Brexit, we’re going to have another general election, our third in just over four years, and this time it’ll be in December – the darkest, coldest, wettest month of the year.

Thank you, Santa Boris, it’s what I had always hoped for as an early Christmas present. What more could we ask than having to troop along to the polling station in pouring rain on a freezing winter evening? Tip: apply for a postal vote. Here’s the link.

In 2015, the Tories under David Cameron won with a 12-seat overall majority in the House of Commons. An overall majority? How very quaint.

In 2017, the Tories under Theresa May failed to win an overall majority. And I don’t need to remind you what happened next. Agony piled upon agony.

So here we go again. And this time, the choice is clearer than ever: if the Tories win with an overall majority, the UK will leave the European Union. If they don’t, it won’t. Probably.

Labour are offering a new, better withdrawal deal and then a referendum. If you like their deal, you’ll vote Yes and the UK will leave the EU. If you don’t, you’ll vote No and we’ll stay put. Jeremy Corbyn won’t express a preference.

I know better than to make any predictions, but it is quite possible that no party will win with an overall majority. The agony of a stalemated parliament might well continue. Perhaps MPs will have to start learning the art of compromise, of consensus-building, of reaching out to other parties. All the stuff that Theresa May and Boris Johnson thought was beneath them. For them, tribalism is all – you follow the leader, or you are cast out into the cold.

But here’s what is seriously weird: MPs voted to go for an early election after they had given approval in principle to Mr Johnson’s renegotiated withdrawal agreement. Why? Because the PM was determined not to allow them more than a few days to go through it, line by line. He preferred the risk of an election to the risk of proper scrutiny of the deal.

Hmm. The Financial Times hit the nail on the head in its leader column: ‘Britain’s voters should be under no illusion that the timing of the election has been set for the Conservative party’s advantage and not, as Mr Johnson claims, because parliament is blocking Brexit.’

So add it to your list of favourite Johnson lies and repeat ten times each evening before bed: parliament did not block Brexit. And then keep count of how many times you hear him trot out the same lie each day between now and election day.

And remember as you cast your vote: this was the Johnson/Cummings plan all along. Not for them the messy, gruelling business of trying to govern without a majority – go for broke, win an election and, to coin a phrase, get Brexit done.

We’ll see. The best laid plans, and all that. Frankly, I dread the next six weeks: I fear the campaign will be ugly, mendacious and far worse than anything we have seen so far. The Brexiteers’ dictionary of insults – traitors, saboteurs, betrayal – too often matched by Corbynite ultras in the Labour party, has already fed through into vicious verbal abuse of anyone not signed up to worship at the feet of the cult leader.

Add to the mix rampant misogyny and it is hardly surprising that so many MPs – in particular, so many female MPs – have decided to call it a day. In the words of my former BBC colleague Jenni Russell: ‘This narrow sectionalism, this demonisation of anyone who has a different view of a good Brexit or a good society, is disastrous not just for MPs affected but for the country. We are losing a generation of dedicated, thoughtful public servants.’

So, if you’re not a die-hard Johnsonian Brexiteer, how are you going to vote? Personally, I quite like the (admittedly self-serving) advice from the Green party MEP Alexandra Phillips. ‘Vote Green in all seats that are not marginal (more than 3k majority), and vote for the strongest non-Tory (Lab/Lib) option in marginals.’

And just in case you have forgotten, here are a few of the choicest lies from the Johnson Book of Falsehoods (thanks to The Times for having collected them):

‘We are going … to come out of the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts.’ (25 July)

‘There are no circumstances in which I shall ask Brussels to delay.’ (2 September)

‘We will be leaving on 31 October, deal or no deal.’ (3 October)

‘I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so.’ (19 October)

And there will be plenty more before polling day.


tez carter said...

typical head in the sand bias.the reason boris called an election was the en-pass in the commons.put aside the brexit business.there is no-way any policies could be paSSED .NO NEW LAWS.GOODNESS KNOWS A AGENDA FOR DOING THINGS AROUND THE COUNTRY IS NEEDED.BUT THIS LOT ROTTON TO THE CORE.THE HOPE IS A NEW PARLIMENT,will get on with legislation to provide this country with a decent know and i know.brexit has fowled up everything else.the eu,has come to an agreement with the uk.lets implement this.t.a.-carter

Anonymous said...

Looking back over the years, when I was young we had a 2-party country, which you could say generally represented the employers and the employees, along with a 3rd party which spoke up for the rest of the population, which was a minority. Hence we had Tories, Labour and Liberals. And first past the post elections - winner takes all. Life has changed, we no longer have that number of factories, the wealthy have their money shipped offshore, we have parties which didn't exist back then - but we still have the same first past the post elections.

We no longer sit down to watch the news at 6pm and again at 10pm and that's it, apart from the daily newspaper. We have tv in the chamber/s, social media, etc., etc., and much political life appears to have been turned into photo opportunities - hence the current waving fists, and visits to hospitals and schools.

Not only have our politicians lost respect for each other but much of the population appears to have lost respect for them, which horrendously now means many of them threatened with violence because they hold different views.

We have to have a change. We have to allow voters to be listened to, their votes counted and proportional representation given. All parties, from right to left, should be represented in parliament according to their number of followers/voters. We should have MPs who are willing to speak quietly and with respect to each other and stop for ever the "yah boo sucks" jeering, cheering and general foul behaviour with the arm waving and the fists which are all too often seen and heard. Every MP elected to the chamber represents their electorate and deserves the same respect as every other one, no matter which party "won". Our MPs must start to work together and stop this appalling "We won, you lost, get over it", whether in regard to the EU or generally.

I agree with much of what you say here Robin and thank you for saying it. I dread the next few weeks and, like many others I speak with, wish we could just turn our backs on the whole sorry mess. But we all know we can't. Not if we expect to continue to live in this country. But the main political parties have to face up to the fact that they need our respect and that's something that doesn't come automatically. It has to be worked for. They should start to recognise that.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn’t get too excited just yet, Robin

I agree, I wouldn’t trust Johnson as far as I could throw him, and he’s fat

Also, there’s a lot more to this suppressed Russia report than meets the eye. Russia has its objective: to reconstruct the USSR by stealth. No, I’m not joking, look at the recent military operations around the nations formerly under Russian influence, and various political stances. The current cyber assault uses different tactics for different countries. Americans trust Twitter & FakeBook; many Poles, Germans & Italians trust anyone who hates immigrants; we Brits trust our newspapers. Look at the owners, FFS

The timing of this General Election is very dubious. Who votes against Brexit? – students. Who is busy thinking about Xmas & off for the Xmas holidays? – ah, students. Suitably neutralised!

I can understand the logic behind Jo Swinson’s wish for a General Election – she hopes to split the vote, thereby gaining power appropriate to her electorate rather than her number of MPs. Good for her – it’s likely to give her the balance of power. I just hope she comes over as more than a member of mumsnet’s militant wing (that really isn’t intended as sexist, just an observation!)

And, I also wouldn’t trust Corbyn as far as I could throw him. He’s strongly pro-Brexit, as that’s what his militant/momentum puppeteers tell him to think. He would deny wanting a “People’s Referendum” given half a chance. And why on Earth did he agree to this GE timescale – surely another Referendum before the GE makes better logic?

Democracy is slipping away from the UK. I hope it survives


Ian Gibson said...

@tez carter

There's good news and bad news: the good news is that you have correctly identified the key issue in the politics of Brexit: the bad news is that you have got your analysis of it utterly back to front. There isn't any impasse in the commons: all there is is a government who aren't prepared to compromise in order to get their legislation through. Such compromise, which is every day stuff in parliaments elected on PR, would genuinely be the will of the people: that's exactly the cards the electorate dealt in the 2017 election. Politics, it is often said, is the art of the possible: getting brexit done has always been entirely possible, it merely required some give as well as some take. Unfortunately, the culture imbued by decades of First-Past-The-Post, seasoned with the arrogance of those born to rule (and too clever to die in a fire,) prevented this from happening. The blockage is entirely the government's failure.