Two pieces of news have dominated politics today. The fact that Dr Sarah Wollaston has joined the Liberal Democrats and that Jeremy Corbyn has partly come off the fence that he has been sitting on for three years and is proposing something about Brexit which might be construed as being positive.
Firstly, it is great to welcome Sarah to our Party. She is someone who I have respected since she was first elected and have come to know her well in the many sessions that I have done in the Commons on health matters. She is an authoritative voice of calm in what is a fractious and divided House. She is well respected on all sides and exercises a positive view on politics. I believe that she is a huge addition to our Party and understand that there may be more to come.
I have seen a number of members join us recently from the liberal wing of the Tory Party which is nothing more than a few feathers now! At one time there were about 30% of the Tory membership who could be regarded as moderates, centrists or liberals. Now they have either joined us or have given up. Today’s Tory Party is a far right, unthinking, incoherent group which is the mirror image of Trump and the Republican Party on the other side of the Pond.
So, what do we make of Corbyn’s offer to lead an interim government after a Vote of No Confidence? The main problem with that being that he has absolutely no chance of winning it and he knows it is just a token gesture. To win he would need to get the following to support it:
- Lib Dems
- Independent Group
- Independent MPs
- Tory Remainers
The Independent Group, Former Labour MPs sitting as independents and potential Tory waverers have all made clear within minutes that they would not support a No Confidence Vote which would lead even to the possibility of a Corbyn premiership. But Corbyn knew that already so he knows that what he has put forward is an empty gesture.
When Jo Swinson tried to move a VONC on the last day of the House sitting before the Summer recess she was careful to take both herself and the Lib Dems out of the short-term leadership equation. She proposed that someone who commanded goodwill from all sides of the House should be asked to be the caretaker PM. She suggested people like Hillary Benn who is the Chair of the Select Committee.
Today Jo Swinson has confirmed that both Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman have indicated that they have no long-term aspirations for power but would be prepared to step in for the very short term. The indications are that a VONC to potentially put those people into power would be successful. That is the reality of the hopelessly split and dysfunctional House of Commons and the hopelessly split and dysfunctional body politic in the UK today.
So, it looks as though Corbyn has damaged irrevocably or at least in the short-term the possibility of getting VONC through so what else can be done?
In the short term there does appear to be enough support to block a no-deal BREXIT and once again push back the date for leaving the EU from 31st October. That would mean that a General Election could be held anyway which would have the same effect as a VONC. That would mean that all the Parties could put forward their views on BREXIT in the course of a General election. The winners would then indeed have a mandate to proceed.
The Lib Dems, Greens, PC and SNP have no problem with defining their policy. They will argue for a People’s Vote and then in that vote campaign to stay in the EU on a binding referendum. The question in that would be do you want Mrs May’s deal, which is the only one on the table, or Remain.
The problem then lies with Labour. At present it is abundantly clear that the membership of the Labour Party is overwhelmingly Remain but that Jeremy Corbyn and his cult are overwhelmingly Leave. They have already put forward proposals for a jobs led Brexit which the EU have made clear is as much a fantasy as that of PM Johnson.
The electorate can decide for themselves whether they want a Leave party and how severe; or a Remain Party and how committed. That is true democracy.
Corbyn’s suggestion is just a fudge and he knows it. One way or another the choice must be made by the people. The Labour Party will have to make up its mind on getting off the fence or not because the way that they deluded large swathes of the electorate into believing that they are a Remain Party simply will not wash for a second time.