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Brexit on the Brink

With Parliament still deadlocked Kevan James and Andy Martin take a look at the current situation regarding the situation in the House of Commons.

Progress – or lack of it – on Brexit is getting very frustrating; the UK’s divorce from the EU is dragging on and is eclipsing other important issues. However, Theresa May is clearly incapable of understanding the word ‘no’, and it has become obvious to almost every observer that the Prime Minister’s proposal will never win a majority. Something had to be done to break the deadlock and the house taking over the commons agenda was a step in the right direction – a chance for alternatives to which the PM and the cabinet had been closed, to be discussed and voted upon.

It was a big disappointment to then watch MPs fail to reach a consensus on the ‘best’ way out of the debacle. There’s a difficult dynamic in all of this of course: respecting the will of the people who voted in the referendum, balanced against a need to act in the best interests of the country. And so it was a relief when the commons decided a ‘no deal’ Brexit was an unacceptable way forward.

Countless commentators have rightly said that leaving the EU is one of the most momentous events in the country’s history. This isn’t the time for individual grandstanding or self-interest. In the past, governments have had to implement measures that were not party policy, usually in reaction to changing circumstances. Acting in the best interests of UK plc and its population should always be the prime directive. Trying to reach a consensus with the opposition is a positive move, even if it comes a bit late in the day. If time is the obstacle that stands in the way of getting a deal that’s right for both sides, then that time has to be found. If reaching agreement internally and with the EU means that the UK has to participate in May’s European Union elections, so be it. The government might need to deal with a backlash from voters who feel disenfranchised, but it would be a tragedy if MPs now abandon their principals and allow the country to crash out of the EU without a deal, just because time is running out.

No one needs to be kicked out of parliament; no one should be deselected. The house just needs to do its job, and to look after the country above all else.


© Andy Martin 2019

One Vote. That’s all it was. Like the original vote on Brexit itself, the division between MPs in a vote last night (April 3) to delay Brexit was slender – just one vote. 313 to 312.

‘The Ayes have it!’

The motion, led by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, forces the Prime Minister to ask the European Union to extend further the Brexit process, in a bid to avoid any no-deal scenario. The significance of this vote is that it now takes away the right of the government to govern and even though the PM has already said she will be asking for a short extension, MPs can now force a much longer one. The House of Commons vote now goes to the House of Lords before it will become law, although it will be the EU that decides on any extension.

Talks between PM Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are set to continue after Corbyn was photographed smiling broadly and giving a ‘thumbs-up’ as he went to see the PM. Meanwhile, Martin Hewitt, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Assistant Commissioner, has issued a warning over the use of inflammatory language. He said that people should think carefully about what they say to avoid inciting others to violence. This stems from an increasing number of threats directed at MPs and the attempt to sabotage railway lines by supporters of Brexit.

Yet the use of inflammatory language began even before the referendum itself was held in June 2016. The predictors of eternal darkness were out and about, prophesising Armageddon if the vote was to leave – it was. Yet Armageddon never came and there was plenty of language to inflame. There has been much since.

Where did Brexit go wrong? Or was it, really, ever right to start with? There are many, now, today, who will say not. Former Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised (in some quarters, quite vehemently) for calling the referendum and the equally former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, was vocal in his demand for the people to have their say and then even more forthright in his verdict for them to be ignored when it didn’t go the way he thought it would. Is there some significance that neither are now MPs, let alone leaders?

Is it a wonder that most ordinary people, across the country and in its entirety, regardless of how they voted in 2016, are fed up with it? Is it any wonder at all that so many now say that they will never vote again, for either of the two parties, Conservative and Labour, that have formed governments of the UK for more time than many have been alive?

And is it a wonder that, given the top-heavy way in which government and its system does business, its machinations are so frustrating to the people it is supposed to serve? As Machiavelli once said: ‘Thus things proceed in their circle, and thus the empire is maintained’.

Brexit, for all its problems, may have exposed some aspects to politics in the UK that have until now, passed un-noticed by most.


© Kevan James 2019

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