A parliament united by what it doesn’t want
Boris Johnson has finally admitted he has abandoned his “do or die” on October 31st Brexit policy, after MPs voted for the Benn Act to secure an extension to the Article 50 process from the EU and avoid a disastrous No Deal.
The Lib Dems and SNP have tried to pass a People’s Vote in this Parliament, even as recently as last week when Labour refused to support the Liberal amendment to the Queen’s Speech.
But with Parliament gridlocked, and with Conservative MPs, a substantial minority of Labour MPs, and a handful of independent Conservatives currently blocking a People’s Vote as a means of stopping Brexit in this parliament, a General Election seems the only other alternative route.
The Lib Dems, Conservatives, and SNP only seem united in waning to sort Brexit by electing a new parliament where a majority can emerge to revoke article 50 , hold a People’s Vote or finally leave.
So it looks likely that everyone will agree to hold an election, even Labour who have announced they’d agree to a 12th December date.
Politicians have found some unity in recognising that dysfunctionality cannot persist forever.
What Europe wants
To date , most of us have assumed that what Europe wants is bad for Britain. The idea that what Europe wants is what is best for Britain and Europe is considered naive. Consequently, negotiations with Europe have been confrontational.
Europe clearly doesn’t want Britain to leave, in fact it still clings to a hope that Britain might stay following either a referendum or shake up in Government.
The French prime minister is the only slight dissenting voice in the European consensus. He clearly wants to move on and has rather recklessly contemplated a “no deal” to that end.
The extension of the deadline has been modified to allow us to get out earlier than the end of January, but no one seems to think this likely.
I’m not hearing many British people saying this, but Europe’s united approach and consistent wish to engage in a negotiated solution is in sharp approach to disunited Britain.
Will people change their minds?
The hope is that by rolling the dice with a general election, the British people will create a decisive government where a majority view can be created.
But this is an extremely odd way of doing things. The British electoral system can create massive swings based on the votes of a few voters.
A second referendum would at least test the views of the people on the central matter in hand – the reason that people want a general election.
But there is no certainty that any Government would be able to find a consensus to implement leave if the second referendum confirmed the first. It would of course be easier to remain – which is what Europe wants us to do.
The risk of remaining is the alienation it would bring of large parts of the electorate that voted leave not on intellectual but on emotional grounds.
While I think it likely that you could change the minds of the small number of leave voters who saw it as good for Britain in a cerebral way, the vast majority of voters , take big decisions which they cannot get their heads round, on an emotional basis.
I don’t think that enough people will reason for remain to counter those people who believe in Brexit.
This cartoon from four years ago is horribly prescient.
We are stuck and that is bad
Where we are right now is “stuck”. We have just binned a hundred million campaign telling us to prepare for Thursday – 31st October. Those who did will now have to prepare for something else, though we don’t know what.
We are united in not wanting to be in this place, but we are in this place and the best we can do is to work our way out of the hole we have dug ourselves.
Conventional wisdom says that when you are in a hole, you should stop digging.
We are now so exhausted by all this that we have lost all perspective on the matter in hand. I really think the best thing for our country would be to take a breather, a moratorium and ask for a further extension, perhaps for a year so that whatever we do, we do with a degree of national unity.
Because I sense that the decisions that will be taken in this current malignant atmosphere will be decisions that will not command any consensus. The purpose of the original referendum has been to clear things up, in fact it’s made things a lot worse. I can see no point in repeating the referendum, changing Government or crashing out of Europe in the current climate.
Time may be the healer yet
As we used to do at school, when there was a fight, we should all leave the playground, go back to class and sort this matter out when heads are cleared.
Perhaps the most difficult decision is the best decision . In this case, the most difficult decision is to put the decision off a year. That’s what I’d do if I had a way of doing it.