As we approach the crucial votes on Saturday over our future with Europe, I have tried to sum up for myself where the main English Parties stand on the issue. I omit Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland not because of indifference but because I do not have the requisite knowledge. Apart, that is, from the fact that our sister Party in Northern Ireland, Alliance, is as pro EU as we are.
The picture is very confusing as only two of the main Parties (in opinion poll terms) are united on this issue. So, let’s see what the position is. They are in alphabetical order:
The Brexit Party. No ambiguity here. As the name suggest they believe in out under any circumstances although it is very clear that many of them have no idea what ‘Out’ means. I listened to a Brexiteer say that the obvious answer is to bring back the British Empire. How we are to subjugate more than 3 billion people is beyond his and my comprehension. They have a devil may care attitude to Leave. When told that it will lead to job losses and deaths because of medicine shortages and staff shortages in the NHS they shrug their shoulders and say, “it’s a price worth paying”. I hope it’s their medicine that runs out first!
The Conservative & Unionist Party. Here the picture is much more problematic. It is clear that most of the MPs are Leavers in one way or another. But that is now largely because either the Remainers have either left (3 have joined our Party) or were expelled. Similarly, with the membership. The Party has been cleansed of Remainers who have either just given up or have joined us in their thousands. We are not entirely sure what the deal being negotiated is but it seems fairly clear that it will lead quickly to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland leaving the UK in devolution/Independence deals. This means that a theoretical pro-Union Party will be leading the charge to become an English rump. What’s left of the Tory Party can best be described as Brexit-lite!
Green Party. Very largely in favour although of their two members of Parliament the one in the House of Lords, Baroness Jones, is a Leaver!
Labour Party. Well they are in a right mess. There are huge differences between what the members want (as expressed at Party Conference); what most MPs want (as expressed both in meetings of the Parliamentary Party and increasingly in the press; and what Corbyn and his close-knit allies want. Most MPs and Party members want to Remain. They believe that the right way forward is a People’s Vote in which their will be the chance to vote for whatever deal has been negotiated or to Remain. Most of these want Remain to be the option in their manifesto if a General Election is held before a People’s Vote.
However, their Leader believes that he can go to Brussels, negotiate a ‘Brexit for Jobs’ within three months and then push that deal through Parliament. This is a naive or dishonest approach. No deal can be had if the first thing that Corbyn wants is the end of Freedom of Movement which, together with Freedom of Capital, is one of the basic tenets of the EU.
Some go even further than this and just believe that the UK should accept any deal that comes along.
Liberal Democrats. Dead easy this one. We want to Remain. We want there to be an immediate People’s vote on either to accept a deal or to Remain on the present terms. If that is not held before a General Election, we will campaign for a Remain vote. If we get enough MPs with the democratic mandate we have been given we will Revoke Article 50 immediately
What’s going to happen now? Who knows! On Super Saturday being held at the end of this week there are just so many possible permutations and so many mavericks. In theory a united opposition should be able to easily defeat the Government who now have a majority of -43!
Can Corbyn stop 21 Labour MPs supporting Johnson. Can Johnson stop the DUP voting against if he is throwing NI into some vague Customs Union? How will the Independent Tory MPs who were expelled vote? How will the MPs who left Labour to sit as Independents vote? What is the deal that they will be asked to vote on? What amendments will the Speaker allow to be tabled?
The Brexit debate will not stop this Thursday. If the UK does leave on 31st October or at any other time the discussion about the new treaties, relationships and legislation will go on for at least another 5 years. If Brexit is stopped and Article 50 revoked there will be a confidence back in our Partners and our businesses but some will feel cheated.
What a mess this Country is in. In just three short years international respect for our Country has shrunk to almost none-existence. The Mother of Parliaments has moved to a state which might be described as acute mental ill health if it was a description of the behaviour of a person. Allegations are thrown around; money is spent at will, there is no direction, some people’s minds seem to change with astonishing regularity.
Worst of all too many of the considerations that are in politician’s minds are not what is best for my Country but what is best for Me and my Party.
Quite frankly we all deserve far, far better than that.