Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been quite a week in British politics. Well, sort of. More pertinently, it may end up being quite a week in British politics, but we don’t really know for sure yet. The formation of The Independent Group (the members of which are now, entertainingly, being referred to as TIGGERS) could prove to be the start of something monumental in British politics.

Aside from the Lib Dems’ coalition with the Conservatives, where they got screwed harder than an IKEA flatpack being constructed by Eddie Hall (…if you get the reference), the Labour and Conservative Parties have absolutely dominated British politics over the last few decades.

Now, however, there is potentially a real contender for the top spot.

We won’t know the real scale of the threat that TIG’s creation could pose for a while. This is because:

  1. We don’t know how many more MPs will join it;
  2. Because they are not a party yet, we don’t know what their policies will be;
  3. There are real concerns about how MPs from both sides of the political spectrum could agree on a unified strategy, even if they are largely moderate (i.e. not hard-line right or left-wing).
    1. There is already an example of this, where Anna Soubry (ex-Conservative) mentioned that she supported the austerity measures put in place by Cameron’s government, which Labour vehemently opposed.

So, for those of us who have been despairing at the state of our democracy for some time, this is by no means the solution we have been waiting for.

Or rather, not yet it isn’t.

Because TIG has been created as a grouping of MPs but not an actual party, they have given themselves a considerable amount of room to manoeuvre. There almost certainly won’t be a general election for at least a year, given that the last one was in 2017. Even if Theresa May resigns (which could happen if her Brexit strategy ultimately fails), the Conservative Party would most likely find a new leader to take her place – there does not need to be an election.

With this time frame, TIG can be methodical and thorough in creating its own manifesto, or overarching belief system. It has the time to go out and listen to what the people really want and what they would vote for, then create a party on those principles. The vagueness of ‘The Centre’ plays to their advantage – they can write policies that sit best with potential voters because so long as it is moderate, it falls in their remit.

Additionally, because they are not a party, they don’t have to adhere to a party leadership telling them to toe the party line – they can openly oppose their former parties, or any party, without fear of retribution. Using this, they can build up a considerable amount of goodwill for their group by holding our two defunct major parties to task and ramping up public opinion against them. One of the major failures of our system at the moment is that Labour provide absolutely no real opposition to the Conservatives. If The Independent Group can generate some momentum in the media by illustrating how useless the other parties are, they will start to become a real threat.

Additionally, while we won’t know how powerful TIG itself will be for a while yet, the fact that it exists at all has provided one immediate effect: moderate MPs within the Labour and the Conservatives now feel more empowered. A moderate MP can now demand more moderate policies from their parties and have an answer when their leaders ask, “Or what?”

Now, they can say, “Or we leave.”

Justine Greening, a highly-respected Conservative MP, has already threatened to do this over Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, as have a number of her cabinet ministers. The Times has reported today that Jeremy Corbyn could face a mutiny from ‘dozens’ of MPs and shadow cabinet ministers if he fails to back a second referendum.

While The Independent Group is in its infancy, it has already had a massive impact upon the fraught political landscape and I predict its influence to grow more and more.

Next week, May has promised an update on Brexit on Tuesday and time for amendments on Wednesday (which could mean that No-Deal is finally ruled out). With the new spectre of The Independent Group looming over her shoulder, it could turn out to be a rather tasty week.

I, for one, am rather looking forward to it.


As there will be plenty of ‘tasty’ action next week, I will be sending out a couple of Inbox Insights to Between the Lines’ subscribers.

Inbox Insight takes the major politics stories of the day, cuts through the noise, and tells you the things you need to know in a five-minute read or less. It is sent straight to your inbox, just in time for midday. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in receiving, please sign up here.

Chuka-n It All In

So.

Interesting times. While 8 MPs may not seem like much, they may well prove to be the first trickle of hope that made its way through the compacted u-bend of British politics in quite some time. The small group of tearaways, the rebellious teenagers running away from their (admittedly pretty broken) home, are chasing their dream of “Leaving the old tribal politics behind,” in the words of Chuka Umunna, the de facto leader of this new group.

Thank Christ someone had the balls to do it. In all honesty, this split has come so far down the line (although, curiously, not after March 29th) that the impact was dampened somewhat compared to what it could have been a few weeks ago. Additionally, it wasn’t helped by Umunna’s oration being slightly too scripted, slightly too camera-savvy, to be really effective during the defectors’ launch.

However, say what you will about the baying bunch of cretinous Tories that are destroying themselves over Brexit (and, possibly, the British economy with them), there has been a gaping chasm where an opposition should be. The Conservatives are a disaster, and Labour are no better.

Jeremy Corbyn has systematically failed to present any sort of challenge to Theresa May at the time where a strong, organised shadow government who holds our government accountable is desperately needed. Despite the facts and figures telling him that a majority of Labour MPs are in favour of a second referendum, he has stuck to his own Eurosceptic tendencies and ignored his own party.

He could, at any time, have proposed an alternative. He could have used common sense to argue in favour of an extension of Article 50. He could even have backed the dissenting murmurs within his own party and actively backed a People’s Vote. He could been pro-something, a lifeline, a new way of looking at the problem, anything, at any point.

Instead, all he did was point out the (many) flaws of Theresa May’s deal and negotiating style, spit vitriol and insults at her and those sat opposite him in the Commons, and refuse, time and again, to be drawn onto any one alternative strategy.

Why?

Was it because he wanted to keep his party united? They were already about as disjointed as an unconstructed IKEA shelf.

Was it because the Unions told him that a second referendum was not in their best interest? Some safe-seat Labour constituencies were admittedly largely in favour of Leave but when Theresa May proactively engaged the unions a few months ago they were largely in favour of a second referendum, or, failing that, a deal that safeguarded British jobs.

Or was it, really, because he is a coward?

I think we all know the answer, don’t we? What kind of leader fails, repeatedly, systematically, to denounce anti-Semitism?

We unfortunately live in a world where a select bunch of ill-informed, angry and foolish people try to disprove the horrors of the Holocaust, arguably the single most atrocious act of the 20th Century in the West.

…I know that there was also a veritable smorgasbord of horror that happened with various dictators across the century, not least with us Brits and the Empire. However, this was a systematic attempt to wipe out an entire race, carried out in the twentieth century, which was supposed to be a more enlightened age.

It still has not been 100 years since the Holocaust.

But these people, these idiots, exist today, in this supposedly enlightened world and choose to deny it. I believe that no-one is born bad and that people are largely an outcome of their upbringing but by golly by gosh do these morons make it hard to retain faith in humanity.

And these people, recently, seem to take up residency within the Labour Party. Not during Blair or Brown, or even Ed Milliband, but only in the last three years.

Why? You would have to think that any leader of any kind of moral fibre would find it reasonably easy to denounce something so objectively cruel and misguided.

Yet the leader of the Labour Party cannot bring himself to openly renounce anti-Semitism, apologising in August of last year only for the hurt that it caused and promising only to ‘Speed up the process of dealing with it.’

How has that gone, I wonder? Corbyn promised that in August, and yet here we are, with a respected and well-liked MP in Luciana Berger saying that she is, “Embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party.” She has faced death-threats and unbearable abuse in her stance against anti-Semitism. She was the one who fought for the Party to recognise an internationally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism (which Corbyn never fully recognised). You would have thought that any party that had any real desire to lead with decency and morality would give her and her beliefs protection and support.

Yet here she is, walking away. What better example can there be for the utter failure of leadership that has come from Jeremy Corbyn than this? As someone who excitedly waited on the Corbyn bandwagon, believing him to have the potential to be the next Blair in terms of revolutionary charisma and politics, it is a disappointment beyond words.

When he stood on stage at Glastonbury, preaching the word of positive politics and having the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, he seemed messianic. Now, his total inability to lead his party has left him looking like an utter failure.

Phew. That got a bit intense. Let’s take a moment to enjoy this baby seal I met on a walk on Christmas Day.

This article has been heavy on the anger towards Labour, but please do not think that I am biased. I am just as ashamed of the Conservative Party as I am of Labour.

I am ashamed of British politics, in fact. I am ashamed of what it has become, and what has happened to what used to be proud institutions of democracy and decency. These were deeply flawed institutions, make no mistake. Somewhere between WWII and where we are now, however, there was a time when Britain was held up as the epitome of political process, enshrined in a democracy that allowed progress to be made, but held itself accountable, too.

These days we are voting ourselves out of international power, out of economic strength and out of respect from our peers. The baffling stupidity of it all is demonstrated by the utter lack of any kind of leadership from anywhere. British politics, as we know it, is ruined.

However, to extricate yourself from an institution as all-encompassing as the Parliamentary behemoth out of principle alone deserves recognition. As an observer, I doff my cap to the newly-formed Independent Group.

As a British citizen, however, I pray to the gods of tea and crumpets that the rumours of other MPs, Labour and Conservative alike, being tempted to join them are true. We may well have come to the end of the traditional way of government and this might just be the start of a new form of politics, one that truly reflects the more enlightened and principled world we have the luxury of inhabiting in the West.

Let’s hope that this is a new dawn. Let’s hope that those rebellious teens, who pushed open the front door to see what’s outside, have stepped out into a bright new world.

Let us pray that it isn’t just a final, fizzling spark in the vacuum where decent governance used to be.

***UPDATE:

Now three Conservative MPs have joined the Independent Party. Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston have all resigned the Conservative Whip and written to the Prime Minister, telling her she’s doing an awful job, lol.

Full article to follow tomorrow. The spark is starting to glow a little bit brighter.

Brexit Stage Left – What happens when the curtain falls on Brexit?

It is widely accepted that Brexit has decimated the norms of the UK’s political system, whatever the eventual outcome. It has exposed not just the flaws of our system of government, but also the deep divide across the electorate. By introducing the direct democracy of a referendum into a representative system, Brexit has eroded faith in our politicians, pushed the debate from rational to extreme, and pitched hard-right, moderate and hard-left voters against one another. This has brought about a level of vitriol among society that has taken many by surprise, commentators and politicians alike.

It has also led many to want to rip out their hair in anguish, smash their faces into their desks and/or scream “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME, I DIDN’T MEAN IT” over the White Cliffs of Dover.

The sheer lack of empathy, understanding or responsibility from the leaders of the two main parties is unforgivable. Given the scale of the damage that leaving the EU could cause (with or without a deal), for Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to blithely and unashamedly stick their heads in the sand and simply return to the same, unsuccessful arguments over and over again is reprehensible.

Come what may, whether we leave the EU or not, historians and commentators will look back on this time as being the moment that Britain finally realised that its political discourse had to change. So, once the dust has settled, the inquest has been held and the heads have rolled, what do we do?

Put simply, we must ensure the creation of at least two more political parties. However, neither of them can be a centrist party, despite what logic might suggest.

An intrinsic part of the ineptitude of our government and shadow government is that neither are united parties. The Conservatives are being torn apart by ‘small-c’ and socially-liberal conservatives having to continuously fight against the openly hard-right factions, led by the grim spectre of the European Research Group and its glorious leader, Chairman Mogg. The Labour Party is led by a man who is essentially a communist, yet the party itself mostly consists of more moderate MPs.

As a consequence of this, if I were to vote Conservative, I would be giving a democratic mandate to both hard-right and centrist policy. If I were to vote Labour, then I would be giving a mandate to both communist and centrist policy. Because I believe in learning the lessons of history, I am neither a Nazi nor a Trotskyite. Therefore, I have very little inclination to give a mandate, or indeed a vote, to either of these parties.

The idea of a Corbyn government terrifies me, but the idea of being forced to vote for the Conservative party out of fear disgusts me. The Lib Dems, then? Realistically, they are never going to recover from the expenses scandal in their current incarnation – they have little or no clout within British politics.

So, if there is currently no viable party to vote for, surely a new, exciting centrist party, like the under-construction United for Change party, would be the answer? To an extent, yes – any new centrist party that cuts through the current political malaise sounds appealing. But what will happen to the great, established parties that have been at the forefront of British politics for well over a century? Are they to be left by the wayside and forgotten about? Is their wealth of knowledge and experience now completely bereft of value because of a few years of poor leadership?

If we create a new, artificial centre, then the Conservative Party would be forced to move right and the Labour Party would be forced to move left. A new party like United for Change would be exciting, certainly, but would it appeal to lifelong Conservative or Labour (or even Liberal Democrat) voters?

Despite the events of the last few years, a huge swathe of the electorate on either side of the divide will never change allegiance, despite its respective party’s performance. For many, politics is tribal, and to suggest that they jump ship now would be akin to telling Liverpool supporters to support Manchester United because ‘Manchester United understand you better than Liverpool do.’ It simply won’t happen. Even if some were persuaded to leave, would those voters in the safe-seat constituencies, the political equivalent of the ‘ultras,’ join them?

When the Gang of Four broke ranks to create the SDP (and subsequent SDP-Liberal Alliance), they did actually manage to garner a huge number of votes away from Labour in the 1983 election – 7.8m to Labour’s 8.5m. However, because of the nature of First Past the Post, they only won 23 seats compared to Labour’s 209. The voters in the Labour heartlands, the safe seats, remained loyal.

Were a new centre to be created, the lifelong centralist Labour voters, and indeed their Conservative equivalents, would stay loyal to their increasingly extremist parties, driven to the fringes of the political spectrum. As such, their loyalty would give their parties a false mandate to govern in a more extremist way – a vote for a moderate party is also a vote for an extremist party when the party contains both factions within it.

Additionally, our system is designed for us to elect MPs to represent their constituents’ worries and concerns, debate them in Parliament, and generate legislation – the people create the agenda. Who could honestly deny, however, that the “conversation” around Brexit, generated largely by more hard-line MPs and fuelled by an alarmist media, has led the agenda of the people instead?

While we, the electorate, are supposed to shape the debate for our MPs, we now live in a soundbite-laden, social media-infested, click-bait-heavy society where MPs, desperate to become a trending hashtag, shape the debate for us. Those who were once moderate voters will become far more susceptible to accepting hard-line views as standard party policy, rather than the extremist views they are.

The further to the right or left the two main parties go, the further they would take their voters with them ideologically, leaving only the “liberal elite” in the middle. Despite everything, I do have some faith in this country, and I believe that a centre party could win a number of seats in an election and maybe even do quite well. However, the reality is that the two main parties will have taken a sizeable number of votes with them to the fringes. Would a new centrist party really be able to win an overall majority?

If, as I do, you would like to see a rational, centrist government appear to help us through this post-Brexit hell-scape, by far the better option is to create a new hard-line party for both sides of the spectrum and leave the old parties to fall back into the centre.

Between Tony Blair taking office in 1997 and David Cameron leaving in 2016 we have seen the two major parties led by centrist leaders (the economic nightmare and subsequent fallout of austerity notwithstanding). One could argue that Labour’s roots lie in socialism, but in this modern, globalised society, the best place for both main parties to set up shop is in the middle of the political spectrum – still clearly and demonstrably right and left-wing, but without hard-line factions trying to pull them away.

To look at hard-line Brexiteer voters for the Conservatives today is to look at the UKIP voters of two and a half years ago. The fall of the far-right political parties like the BNP and UKIP has meant that they have had to clamber onto the side of the Conservative boat, veering it sharply to the right (although Theresa May’s stewardship has also given little resistance). The truly hard-left voices within Labour were silenced for so long by the abandonment of socialism during New Labour. Now they have been given a voice again by the cult of Corbynism, despite the fact that what made Corbyn so god-like to the youth vote in the first place was that he gave us an alternative to austerity, not that he was a communist.

Give these extremists their own parties. Before 2016, before the referendum that gave us this festering dog-mess called Brexit was even a twinkle in David Cameron’s eye, a far-right supporter was seen by most as something of a joke. They were a throwback to yesteryear, almost comical in how deluded they were. For instance, people adored Nigel Farage as being a parody of the British psyche, a real-life Alan Partridge. The remnants of the far-left met in pubs and grumbled, forgotten and irrelevant, with little political stock.

Now, both ideologies hold more power than ever before.

Give them parties that truly align to their beliefs. That way, they might sod off and stop ruining ours.

Amendmental – Today’s Amendments Vote Made Simple

And for all of the fun of the last few weeks, we’re now back into some real nitty gritty around Brexit.

Joy of joys.

The amount of detail about what is going on is almost mind-bending, so I’m going to do my best to break it down for you because some of the repercussions from today could be massive.

Some of these outcomes could feasibly alter the fate of Brexit entirely, with delays and extensions paving the way for a softer Brexit, a second referendum or, potentially, no Brexit at all.

We can but dream. But anyway, to business:

MPs, at the time of writing, are currently debating amendments to Theresa May’s Brexit plans. These are alternative suggestions to our current options, which are Theresa May’s deal, which was defeated in a historically large margin of defeat two weeks ago, or No-Deal.

…Or revoking Article 50 and pretending the whole referendum thing never happened, but that is about as likely as me being in the starting XV for England this Saturday.

These will be put to the house tonight after the debate – essentially those who have tabled the amendments will be asked, “Do you still want to vote on this?” The votes for those that still want to have their amendments voted upon will happen at 7pm tonight. There are three particularly interesting amendments, which we will come to. The others are all largely similar, attempting to either extend Article 50 or rule out No-Deal through legal or indicative means. They are largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, so feel free to skip, but they are:

  • Corbyn:
    • Rule out No-Deal, allow Parliament to vote on an alternative Brexit deal for creating a permanent customs union and a version of EU’s single market (basically, that we have a clear trading policy with the EU).
    • Won’t get through – Conservatives won’t go for it.
  • Blackford:
    • Extension of Article 50, rules out No-Deal, emphasises role of all UK nations in Brexit process.
    • If Corbyn’s amendment is passed, then this won’t be voted on.
  • Spelman:
    • Prevent No-Deal Brexit but more just an expression of Parliamentary Will than legally binding (i.e. “This is what we want,” not “This is what you must do.”)
    • Very high chance of being passed.
  • Reeves:
    • Requires government to ask EU to postpone Brexit day (March 29th).
    • It will be killed by a previous vote for Yvette Cooper’s amendment, below…

Let’s start with Yvette Cooper‘s amendment as the first of the impactful amendments as it looks most likely to pass and could have the biggest overall impact.

  • The most popular amendment which prevents No-Deal.
  • Changes much of Parliamentary process, by allowing Parliament to make its ‘business’ a priority over the government’s ‘business’ – before, the government would always have precedence.
  • This amendment guarantees time in Parliament for a private member’s bill that would extend Article 50 to December 2019.
    • It binds Parliament to have to discuss and vote upon this bill, which was drafted by both Labour and Conservative MPs.
  • It has a good amount of backing, including the Labour front bench, although Corbyn wants the Article 50 extension to be three months, to July, rather than December. Some Conservatives back this too, though they will be whipped to vote against it (i.e. their party will ban them from doing so. They may rebel, however, and 26 look like they might).
  • There is a slight hint that the bill itself could be amended, too – this could take Brexit in a very different direction down the line…

Dominic Grieve’s amendment:

  • Forces the government to ask MPs for a range of alternatives to the Brexit plan, including Norway, No-Deal or a second referendum. This would happen by each MP giving a non-binding ‘indicative vote’ to show their preference.
  • Would have been interesting to see just how far the hunger for a second referendum might be in Parliament, but as Labour has now backed Cooper’s amendment it may not have as much momentum as it did.

Graham Brady’s amendment:

  • Arguably the most controversial amendment. Graham Brady is a very influential character within the Conservative Party, and his amendment is designed to make Theresa May’s deal strong enough to get a majority in Parliament.
  • It calls for an alternative to the backstop (an EU-demanded fall-back option that prevents a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the case that the negotiations over the transition period fail).
  • Theresa May has ordered Conservative MPs to vote for this amendment.
  • Some Conservative rebels, namely the ERG and Chairman Mogg’s Bastard Brigade, said that it was too vague and they would vote against it.
  • However, Theresa May has now said that she will renegotiate with the EU and ask them to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement (her deal) so that changes can be made to the backstop, which has got the rebels back on board.
  • The EU made it very clear last night that reopening the Withdrawal Agreement was categorically not going to happen…

So, to summarise: only Yvette Cooper’s amendment creates law, so long as her bill gets passed when it is voted on in Parliament. The rest are all advisory, but do carry real weight (a government cannot ask its Parliament for advice only to blatantly ignore it, especially on as hot a topic as this).

If Cooper wins her amendment and her vote, we will not leave the EU without a deal on the 29th of March. If Brady wins, Theresa May’s bargaining position is strengthened with the EU as she can tell them what she needs them to give her in order to secure a victory in Parliament, but they may still ignore her.

Either way, all of the amendments are focussed on trying to prevent No-Deal, improve May’s deal, or simply to get some common sense in place and break the deadlock, which can only be good things.

We’ll find out what happens at 7pm this evening… stay tuned!

…If you can be bothered.

I really don’t blame you by this stage if you can’t.

So Now What?

Brexit has been dominating our airwaves for what feels like eternity. Just as it feels as though we’re starting to get to grips with one (usually catastrophic) event, another rears its ugly head to bamboozle us even more.

Over the last seven days alone, we have seen Theresa May’s hard-fought deal for exiting the EU be voted down in the House of Commons by the biggest ever margin; Jeremy Corbyn call and then lose a Motion of No Confidence; the President of the European Council insinuate that Britain might not leave the EU; and the spectre of a Second Vote hang over the heads of both Conservative and Labour politicians alike like a democratic sword of Damocles.

So… what the hell is actually going on?

Let’s try to break things down a bit.

What’s currently happening, then?

 After last week’s resounding defeat of her deal, Theresa May and her government are currently holding cross-party talks (i.e. with non-Conservative MPs) in a last-ditch attempt to see if there are any potential changes to her deal that, if made, would mean that MPs would be happy to vote it through.

This second vote will be held on Tuesday 29th of January, with a full day’s debate the day before.

That sounds simple enough! Surely everyone can put aside their differences and work in the national interest?

Guess again.

Many of the Conservative “Red Lines,” or pieces of policy within the deal that the Conservatives would, hypothetically, refuse to budge on, are the fundamental issues that saw the vote be annihilated in the House of Commons.

Additionally, Jeremy Corbyn is currently attempting to play out a presumably well-intentioned, but also extremely unhelpful, power play. He is refusing to meet with Theresa May until she agrees that a “No-Deal Brexit” is no longer considered as an option.

Well, if we can’t negotiate a deal, then we should just leave without one, right? 

Mmm, sort of, if you want Brexit to happen.

The default legal position, as set out by Article 50 (the piece of legislation that Theresa May invoked to begin the process of leaving), is that Britain will leave the EU on the 29th March, with or without a deal.

However, the predictions around a No-Deal Brexit are worrying.

Brexiteers have been downplaying the negative effects that No-Deal might bring and, ultimately, they could prove to be right. As with all recent politics, the predominant arguments set by opposing sides is how terrible the other outcome would be, and the doom and gloom about a No-Deal Brexit may well be overhyped.

However, in this writer’s opinion, it would certainly be damaging (although perhaps not apocalyptic). If the UK left the EU without a deal, we would lose the transition period – a vital period between 29th March and 31st December 2020 where we would create and implement the new relationship with the EU and the policies required.

While we would have the chance to resolve these over the transition period if we had a deal, if we have a No-Deal Brexit:

  • All of our current legal processes would need to be restructured immediately, as we would no longer adhere to the European Court of Justice but would still be bound to the European Court of Human Rights, which is not an EU body (confusingly);
  • All of our trading deals with the EU would cease to exist and we would be forced to pay external tariffs on our trade with the EU, making our products more expensive and less appealing;
  • Our controls on immigration would be ours again, but unclear – expats in the EU and EU citizens here might find that their rights to live and work are no longer valid, for instance;
  • And the issue over the Irish border would be unresolved. Essentially, the Republic of Ireland would remain in the EU and Northern Ireland wouldn’t be – there are currently no customs on the border between the two nations (as negotiated during the Good Friday agreements, where the two countries ceased hostilities after decades of turmoil). So, NI citizens could, hypothetically, drive into Ireland, buy EU products for EU prices, then drive back into NI – this is extremely problematic.

Oh. That all sounds bad.

It’s all just-about-manageable, but extremely time-consuming, money-wasting and totally avoidable. Increased prices would hit the poorest people in the country the hardest.

Additionally, many leading businessmen have come out to express concern over No-Deal, which leads this writer to believe that the dangers are very real, much more than the words of politicians would.

That’s very cynical of you.

I know. I don’t care at this stage.

So, what are the other options?

 First, and least likely, is that Brexit is straight-up cancelled. If Article 50 is revoked, Britain can revert back to our current relationship with the EU (the European Court of Justice has promised this). However, Article 50 cannot then be reinstated so it would be a final decision.

Most would argue that this is brazenly ignoring the 52% who voted Leave, and so is extremely unlikely.

…Even though, in this writer’s opinion, we elect our MPs to make these decisions for us and not blindly listen to what us, the great unwashed, have to say on things we barely understand.

Sounds a bit demagogic.

Yep.

Anyway, the second option is that we ask the EU to extend Article 50, so we don’t leave the EU on the 29th of March. This seems reasonably likely, given that Britain has all of the calmness and clear-headed direction of 20 angry cats in a potato sack. If we ask the EU to give us more time to figure out what we want and how to get it, they are likely to give it to us.

However, even this seemingly reasonable option has its detractors – to those hard-line Brexiteers, this is going against the ‘Will of the People,’ who voted for Brexit as it was spelled out to us (i.e. not spelled out in the slightest). To change the default leaving date might worry them that Brexit might not happen at all, so they are vehemently against it.

That sounds a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Well, it gets worse.

Option three, which has been floating around the ether for some time now, is that we have a second referendum.

Whoa boy. That sounds like trouble.

Yeah.

Around 80% of Labour MPs are in favour of a second referendum, despite Corbyn being vehemently against it. Some Tories are in favour too, as well as the SNP and Lib Dems.

A second referendum could take many forms. It could be a second ‘In or Out’ referendum, but the worry here is that this would undermine the democratic rights of those who voted in the first referendum. It could be a two-tiered referendum that is ‘‘In or Out,’ and if Out then ‘Deal or No Deal?’’ Or it could be multi-vote referendum done in terms of preference.

But Remain would surely win a second referendum and put an end to this mess, right?

That is absolutely not certain.

While the public outcry into the liberal echo chambers that this writer inhabits would suggest that yes, a second vote would be overwhelmingly in favour of Remain, there is simply no way to know this for sure.

There are a huge number of ‘What-Ifs.’ For instance:

  • If the margin is 52%-48% in favour of Remain, is that a clear mandate to remain in the EU?
  • If Leave win again, what happens then? A No-Deal Brexit?
  • If Remain win clearly, what happens to the millions of people who voted Leave but saw their Government fail/refuse to do so?

My God this is depressing. There’s absolutely no way to make everyone happy at this stage, is there?

Nope, doesn’t seem that way. No matter what happens, a huge portion of the UK will feel cheated, ignored or belittled.

Christ. So, what will actually happen then?

In this writer’s opinion, on Tuesday we will finally see Theresa May’s deal put to bed for good. There are too many fundamental issues with the deal for it to be voted through by MPs across the political spectrum.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. There is a cross-party group of MPs that are trying their best to prevent a No-Deal Brexit, but would Theresa May really call for a second referendum? She has stated before that she would absolutely not allow one, and as she won a vote of no confidence within her party she cannot be challenged for the leadership until December.

So, she might step down when her vote is finally killed for good on Tuesday, but she is the most obstinate and durable Prime Minister we have seen in recent times so this seems unlikely. She seems utterly determined to see Brexit through to completion, whether it be a No-Deal Brexit, a bad deal Brexit, a Brexit-means-Brexit Brexit or a red-white-and-blue-Brexit.

Alternatively, we could just poke Angela Merkel in the eye, flick the bird to Emmanuel Macron, cut ourselves off from the world and just sit there between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, drinking British Ales from British Breweries, eating turnips, and proudly telling ourselves that we told those EU bigwigs what for.

Even though we will have regressed politically, legally, internationally and morally by about fifty years.

What’s even the point anymore?

I really don’t know.

Rue Britannia.

‘MMMMNNNNEEEEEEUUUUUURRRRRGHHGHHH.’

And so, with the wearied, defeated and yet somehow inevitable sigh of the liberals, thus ends around sixty years’ worth of political dialogue. Barring an upset the likes of which British politics hasn’t seen since a certain porcine potentate told the entire Catholic religion to do one ‘coz he fancied another bird, today marks an historic day for the United Kingdom.

According to Brexiteers, this is not a day where we decide to listen to those who have studied the nature of our country for decades. Nor is it a day where we finally take stock of ourselves as a nation within a globalised economy and think about what that entails. It is not a day where we finally begin to understand that Britain is no longer an empire, but rather a middling-to-fair, services-based economy among the global echelons that understand our value but scoff at our self-importance…

…No!

Today is the day that we realise that we have the power to be the trend-setters.

(At this point, I imagine a solitary party-horn blowing in the distance –  the sad, atonal rasp cutting against the sound of gale-force winds blowing through the few remaining leaves of the decimated, cigarette butt and plastic bag-infested forest we stand in.)

The trend that we are currently setting, as a major player in international politics (still, somehow), is that opinion, gut-instinct, suggestion and hyperbole are all more important factors than science, quantifiable data, the base standard of general economic study and, most importantly, fact.

Not a fact. Not any fact. Just fact.

FACT.

Something, by definition, that is quantifiable, provable, and indisputable.

In truth, we realised this on the 23rd June, 2016, we just didn’t know it yet.

The moment that David Cameron (or rather, his snivelling, success-grabbing goblins that could begrudgingly be called advisors) called a referendum to decide the fate of the United Kingdom’s policy on EU membership was the moment that we were entirely, unilaterally, and unequivocally fuuuuucked.

The conversation around Brexit isn’t about what’s best for Britain anymore, but what people believe is what’s best for Britain. These are opinions that can never be fully accurate given the sheer scale of what Britain’s myriad international treaties and regulations define in terms of our status in the world. Brexit isn’t a debate, it’s a screaming competition, where we just believe that if we shout hard enough and louder than those around us, we will win.

Without going into too many of the distinct details, in my lifetime I have lived under the following governments:

  • John Major, who had to deal with the repercussions of Thatcherism (although I was between the ages of 0 and 6 at the time, so didn’t really understand all that much);
  • Tony Blair’s Third Way Labour, where he promised so much and yet delivered so little;
  • Gordon Brown’s Labour Government that served without a mandate;
  • David Cameron’s coalition, which destroyed the only electable centrist party;
  • David Cameron’s majority, which gave us Brexit;
  • And, finally, Theresa May’s All-You-Can-Eat buffet of Snooper’s Charter spying, Fuck-All-The-Immigrants, Fuck-All-The-Police (‘Even though I cut all their funding’), Fuck-The-NHS, and stupid fucking Brexit everyfuckingwhere.

Also the fundamentally racist Windrush wankshittery.

Our political system has been entirely caught out by the divisions in our country, brought glaringly into the limelight by David Cameron in 2016 through sheer arrogance and a desire to consolidate power. In my lifetime, trust in government has fallen to a catastrophically low level – just look at the governments above and tell me which one had any form of cohesion to it.

There was a time where I naively thought that Cameron brought a form of socially-liberal, ‘Small-C’ conservatism to our country when we needed it the most. Now, we don’t just need something new, our democracy cannot live without it.

We cannot suffer a political discourse where a rational person, who understands both the pros and cons of a globalised economy, can vote in favour of the out-and-out fascism that the ever-divided Conservative Party panders to more and more. The Conservative Party should be the party of pragmatism (or at least the party of considered opinion and rational policy), yet it finds itself split between out-of-touch politicians trying desperately to understand how to work Instagram and Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Dickensian orphanage patron who delights in the suffering of those born unto poor stock.

Nor can a rational person vote in favour of a single-nation socialist government, as an increasingly not-as-messianic-as-we-first-thought Jeremy Corbyn has positioned the Labour Party into as divided a position as the Conservative Party. Not only is Labour dealing with antisemitism, (see Rachel Riley’s Twitter feed if you dare) but the party as a whole is far too divided between left/centrist Blairites and nigh-on Marxist socialists. I wish there was a way for Utopianism to still be a realistic aim but, unfortunately, we are way, way too far gone into capitalism, whatever Owen Jones says.

The Liberal Democrats are dead in the water after the tuition fees scandal and will never realistically resuscitate themselves, the Green Party is, at best, a lobbyist group and UKIP can, to each and every one of their members, suck hard and true upon my anus.

I do not have a single party that I want to vote for, which is a fundamental systematic failure of our political system. I believe that many people feel the same way.

And yet this useless, merry-go-round government, a minority government at that, believes that taking us out of Europe is the answer, because 52% of a well-meaning but entirely uninformed public says they thought it was a good idea two years ago.

Whatever happens next, Brexit cannot be the answer. Britain no longer has dominance on the world stage, other than soft-power. We have the ability to be the awkward, confusing and obtrusive partner that an arrogant EU needs. We are the one nation that is still somehow proud of its empire but also willing to teach the lessons we have learned from something so far reaching and yet, to so many, so terrible. We are the nation that the free countries of the world rallied to during the final World War, emerging victorious through international cooperation and alliance.

Yet we are turning our back on this.

To follow through on Brexit, especially as it is defined by this compromised deal from a government that couldn’t negotiate a straight road without crashing into a blazing fireball of ineptitude, would be to deny what Britain is – an awkward wanker of a nation that Europe loves to hate, but Europe needs.

Teach an Old Etonian New Tricks – A Champagne-Snowflake’s Thoughts on the Election

Let’s face it, the current British political landscape looks less “green and pleasant land” and more “seagull shite-covered landfill site.” I mean, the state of all parties going into tomorrow’s election is actually too depressing to be funny:

  • The Conservatives have had an absolutely abysmal campaign, with the initial idea of promoting the charisma and strength-of-character of Theresa May falling somewhat short when they discovered that she had all of the charm and leadership qualities of a decomposing Halloween pumpkin in an unseasonably-warm November.
  • The Labour Party have had an excellent campaign, led by affable village postman Jeremy Corbyn, but it’s been undermined by some catastrophic interviews where the exact figures on key campaign promises were fluffed or unknown, and the fact still remains that he leads a party where most of the MPs seem ready to take him to the guillotine and somehow, the undoubtedly well-meaning and committed but catastrophically useless Diane Abbott can be Shadow Home Secretary (though at the writing it appears as though she has been taken off the team).
  • The Lib Dems are well-meaning but still not trusted after the Tuition Fees u-turn and are too small to make a difference, The Greens will probably still get Brighton but are essentially a one-topic lobby group of a party (though yes, their one topic of SAVING THE FUCKING PLANET is pretty important) and UKIP are just mimicking Arsène Wenger – they should have enjoyed their unexpected victory and ridden off into the sunset rather than hang around and make everyone that bit more irritated with their old-fashioned, out-of-date beliefs.
  • Even the recent breath of fresh air into British politics, the SNP, have had some major concerns amongst their electorate about a second independence vote and look set to lose some of their seats.

It’s a veritable shit-show of an election. Many have asked why on earth it was called in the first place although the reasoning behind May’s calling of it are sound – she was working on David Cameron’s mandate, a very, very different Conservative agenda to what she is trying to promote, and so calling an election would give legitimacy to her Government. It makes sense, though admittedly even I, a politics student and aficionado (and deservedly single as a result), sighed when it was announced. Everything is so uninspiring that it’s hard not to be completely apathetic about it.

Thing is though, on a personal level I’m rather glad it’s come around as it’s made me think a lot more about the kind of politics I want to see in the world. I voted Conservative in both of the past elections as I bought in to Cameron’s rhetoric about a centralist, “small C” conservatism – lest we forget, his was a Conservative government that legalised same-sex marriage (though did also contain the ominously-predicted-by-Black Mirror game of hide-the-sausage with a part of a pig). I’ve always had a strong social conscience but grew up around a largely Conservative presence (which is unsurprising considering I went to Eton) so, with Cameron, I felt like I had an excuse to vote Conservative – well-intentioned pragmatism. Tally-ho for the modern age. However, over the last couple of years I’ve watched in despair as Brexit, cuts to welfare and Donald fucking Trump have hogged the headlines and I have started to realise that whatever tie-dye t-shirt you dress up being right-wing in it’s still ultimately about one thing – business.

I’m not totally naïve. I do realise that business keeps the economy going. My Dad voted Conservative under the completely justifiable belief that nothing can work without the economy and the Conservatives are, historically, the party best-suited to dealing with the economy. As despised as austerity has been, it has helped our economy grow back from the global collapse to be reasonably strong when compared to some of our European counterparts. But then I have to ask why the Conservative manifesto for this election was completely uncosted – while Labour may have fluffed their lines, at least they had it written down somewhere on Jeremy Corbyn’s iPad (though being a jam-maker/manhole-cover collector it’s not much of a surprise that he couldn’t find it). Theresa May’s campaign, not just on the economy but in general, has been so complacent that I’ve become furious with the sheer arrogance of it. “Leave it to us, plebs – we know what’s best.” Piss off. It seems to blatantly be about turning profits and forgetting about the people that matter the most – the electorate, at a time when we are starting to be in a position of relative strength to begin to roll back cuts and help people again. The only reasoning I can think of for this is to keep those core conservative voters happy and help keep the Christmas bonuses in triple figures rather than doing what’s best for the country.

After losing my Dad in late 2015 I’ve become so much more aware of just how fucking lucky I am. I’ve had to grow up and think more about where I’ve come from and what I’m going to do with my life and frankly I don’t want my success story to be pushing myself from public school-educated, middle-class boy to leader-in-industry, upper-class man. I want to use my fantastic education to come out of this life having made the world a better place – for all of my “social conscience,” to quote from Jane Austen, “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” I can read a hundred Buzzfeed articles that I agree with or get angry at every Daily Mail headline but unless I’m actually doing something about it I’m just as bad as the people I want to disassociate myself from – tacit acceptance is just as bad as participation. I’d hope that many of you would also feel the same social responsibilities but I appreciate that not everyone reading this is going to be quite as haphazardly radical as I have been in my choice of lifestyle – you might not want to throw away your successful careers to follow in my unpaid, Facebook-berating-article-writing footsteps. So, what easy fix is there for you to do your bit for society? Simple! Vote for the country, not for yourself.

Most of my friends on Facebook have not come from poverty. I certainly haven’t. Our parents in the Baby Boom generation saw industry and capitalism explode and rode the wave, making comparative fortunes in their twenties compared to what most of us earn today. It was an exciting, competitive economy to be a part of and everyone was encouraged to earn as much as they could. However, there will always be losers in a situation like this and the truth is that the difference between rich and poor in this country is more defined today than it ever has been. This is a total generalisation, but I believe that the increase in technology has increased the voice of those not as fortunate as us – we can keep up to speed with events across war-torn countries by talking to people there on Twitter, we can play chatroulette with some perverts from the US or we can exchange profanities about each other’s mothers with kids from Russia over a game of Call of Duty. But we are listening more to those in our country too, or I certainly am at least. Increased political participation, enabled by technology, has started to open my eyes to how dire the situation is for people who are going to food banks, working 60-hour weeks in the NHS or having their necessary social care cut, all at a time where it doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t think I can vote for a party that has created that situation.

I really am still undecided as to who I will actually vote for but it won’t be the Tories. A party that is so brazenly in control of so much of the media that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer can become editor of the Evening Standard, that has implemented and maintained brutal cuts to crucial aspects of our society like healthcare and policing, that has campaigned so arrogantly and patronisingly to the electorate… I couldn’t honestly say that I am acting in keeping with my values if I were to vote Tory. We so desperately need an Emmanuel Macron in this country – a liberal, compassionate and inspiring leader that has the best interests of everyone at heart and doesn’t simply have party politics as their defining agenda. In the absence of that, what choice do I have?

According to the media, it’s either:

  • The IRA-sympathising, modern-day Lenin
  • The homophobic, God-squad liberal
  • The whale-saving hippy
  • William Wallace in a pencil skirt (who I can’t even vote for) or
  • Paul Fucking Nuttall.

It makes me want to cry. However, whoever I vote for tomorrow I will do so on the basis of compassion, altruism and the best interests of the country as a whole. I hope you will do so too.