There is quite literally nothing to celebrate about the current political situation in the UK. The country has become a cesspit of toxicity and disunity in which the major players in Parliament use the nation’s future to further their position in the establishment. Regardless of party affiliation, the dreaded ‘b-word’ has become a vehicle with which leaders have pressed their agendas, with few politicians taking enough time away from their petty squabbling to offer any pragmatic solutions. This was an entirely predictable problem, though we failed to realise it all the same. Many people knew that leaving the EU would be difficult but all, even remainers, failed to recognise the sheer extent of the damage that Brexit would inevitably cause.
Recently, Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, one that was universally met with disdain as it offered a ‘worst of both worlds’ Brexit whereby Britain would be tied closely with the EU with no say as to how it is run, was voted down in the Commons. Well, voted down would an understatement. It was obliterated, with 432 MPs voting down the bill, the largest government defeat in modern parliamentary history. This too was an entirely predictable result; everyone knew months in advance of the vote that the bill would be rejected, quite resoundingly, and indeed it was. The defeat highlights perfectly the divisions that have consumed Great Britain, a name sounding more and more ironic with every passing day, since the result of the referendum was revealed over 2 years ago.
Theresa May constantly claimed that hers was a deal that “delivers on the result of the referendum”; Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand, insisted that it does not. And therein lies perhaps the biggest blockade to progress in the Brexit debacle, no knows what the people voted for in the referendum. Sure, people voted to leave the European Union, but on what ground, by what terms, and in what manner is something that legislators can only speculate about. Any such speculation will inevitably be tainted by beliefs of the individual legislator. Jeremy Corbyn for example, someone who holds the belief that immigration enriches a society rather than hinders it, is unlikely to accept that the end of immigration in the form of free movement was a major reason that people voted to leave. The ballot paper only had 2 options ‘leave’ or ‘remain’. There was no option for a ‘soft Brexit’, no option for a ‘hard Brexit’, no option for a ‘no deal Brexit’. It is clear that the public was ill-informed about what Brexit would actually entail. I for one have no doubt that many people thought that leaving the EU simply meant British lawmakers sauntering out of Brussels, flipping the bird at Jean-Claude Juncker, with no negotiations necessary.
Even now people are unclear as to what they want to gain from Brexit, I have seen multiple people online saying that they don’t care that a no deal withdrawal would cause an immense amount of economic distress and disruption, they just want out and they want it now. But why? What could the country possibly have to gain from this? Mark Carney and the Bank of England have given people fair warning that a no deal Brexit would make life harder for regular Britons but their cautions are usually dismissed by Brexiters as “remoaner propaganda” or “scaremongering”. The leave campaign stinks of isolationist optimism, of Second World War nostalgia where it was Britain standing firm against the monsters of mainland Europe even though we faced the Nazis with the help of 15 other nations. This naïve worldview threatens to throw Britain off a cliff, and adamant Brexiters simply do not care.
The day following the vote on Theresa May’s deal, the Commons voted on Corbyn’s no confidence motion, which was narrowly defeated by the Tory/DUP alliance. Back in December, 117 Tory MPs voted against May in their own no confidence vote, implying that they do not consider her competent enough to lead the Conservative Party but they do think she is capable of leading the country. Of course, as The Guardian columnist Owen Jones noted, this was by no means an endorsement of May’s leadership but rather it was the unifying fear of a Corbyn-led government that led to the victory on the vote of no confidence.
Parliament is in deadlock, no amount of tinkering with the wording of the withdrawal deal will enable it to pass through the Commons. It is therefore clear that only two options will break the stalemate: a second referendum or a general election, and even then these solutions are hardly ideal. A second referendum would potentially end with the same result, and another hung parliament could very well be the outcome of a general election. We are, as the Prime Minister accurately says, in uncharted territory, and any solutions that could fix our problems, could also ultimately make them worse. Politically, the only truly pragmatic option is to scrap Brexit all together and remain in the EU. Please do not take this as an endorsement of EU practices; any sane individual loathes the bureaucracy of the European Union. But perhaps the solutions is to fight back, fight back against the powers that be in Europe and build a fairer, more democratic union, one that is so clearly beneficial to British trade and industry. The idea that one should jump from a sinking ship is not appropriate in this situation because the EU is not a sinking ship, it is not going to collapse any time soon, it is merely a ship being steered in the wrong direction, and instead of running away we should put it back on course.
No matter what we decide we must negotiate our way out of this rut, which is of course easier said than done. If the parliamentarians are insistent that we should ‘deliver on the will of the people’ then we must at least do it in such a way that minimises damage, and helps to build a brighter future for the UK. Realistically, it cannot be that hard as it is difficult to imagine a bleaker situation than the one we are presently experiencing. The bilateral, cross-party talks must take place, otherwise we cannot possibly reach a compromise that is acceptable to everyone. We must unite, as impossible as that seems, and it is the duty of politicians in Westminster to lead the way.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to know what you have to say.