One of the phrases that came out of the Brexit referendum campaign time and time again was “taking back control”, writes Jon Bigger.
This was presented as the people grasping control via the UK Parliament over legislation, borders and regulations.
Over the last few weeks of 2018 and the first of 2019 we’ve seen just what this could mean. It would be easy to suggest that the ineptitude of Parliament and government were purely due to the arithmetic of the House of Commons. In fact the mathematics just accentuates the dire position the British political class is in, but the idea of the UK Parliament being in control is truly frightening right now.
Theresa May is the prime minister who refused to release Brexit legal advice, leading to the unprecedented situation of the government being brought into contempt of Parliament. She delayed the meaningful vote on her own deal claiming she would get legal assurances over the Northern Ireland Backstop and then spent a month doing nothing of the sort. She survived a confidence vote within the Conservative Party regarding her leadership before the festive break and then lost massively the meaningful vote when it returned to Parliament. Her government survived a vote of no confidence a day later. There has never been anything quite so shambolic as this.
May has been praised for her stoic ability to steer a ship over a cliff edge very slowly. She isn’t stoic; she’s just plain arrogant. She is convinced that her way is the only possible way. The Maybot stumbles on refusing to accept new programming and simply accepting new batteries so it can make the same speeches it’s been making for the last two-and-a-half years. All that changes is the level of rust, the creaking of the mechanical joints. I fear she’s out of spares. I also fear she will go on forever. Unfortunately, Maybot sounds cute: maybe we should think of her more like Yul Brynner’s android in Westworld.
Jeremy Corbyn is the man who wants Brexit, leading a party that wants to remain. He’s the man propped up by Momentum, a social democratic fan club. He is surrounded by Marxist, Marxist-Leninist and even Stalinist advisors. The saddest sight in ‘socialism’ is watching these types, who believe vehemently that they are the best strategists, advising a man consistently to do the most stupid things possible. The most despairing sight in ‘socialism’ is watching Corbyn try to carry them out. He is an appalling parliamentary speaker and his performance at Prime Minister’s Questions each Wednesday is akin to watching a fly continuously bashing into a window in the hope the glass might not be there anymore. Invariably the Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition treats his relations with government like an inept union branch leader battling a nasty bunch of bosses. He starts from the position of moral superiority but nothing more, he knows he hasn’t got the members behind him. This is unfortunate because Theresa May treats her dealings with the opposition in much the same way, except she doesn’t need her fellow board members totally behind her because they’ll attack Corbyn all the time, every time.
Corbyn’s demand that May take a no-deal Brexit off the table before he even talks to her is surely a pathetic piece of strategising that’s come from some Marxist behind the scenes who thinks he’s clever. For the UK to function on a daily basis, discussions between parties are routine . It’s very unusual for a party leader to refuse a discussion. Indeed isn’t it Corbyn who normally says that problems are best resolved by talking? That’s his approach to foreign affairs at least. It smacks of a far left anxiety to be seen to not collaborate with the enemy. A noble idea, except they’re not making that claim publicly for the obvious reasons that it would look terrible.
Corbyn’s hope of a general election is one of two options that could unblock the logjam as a new government with a new and perhaps stronger mandate could return to the EU with fresh impetus. It might not get the UK any further but it is at least the usual way that politics is conducted. The second option is the idea of a new referendum. The SNP, Lib Dems, Green and a lot of Tory and Labour MPs are arguing for this. May has granted them talks but refused to offer them the thing they actually want, meaning that it’s anyone’s guess if she actually offers anyone anything new next week when she has to return to Parliament. Much more likely, is the prospect of her turning round and telling Parliament “see, I told you my deal was the only way forward”.
The DUP are the party that hates May’s deal but loves the money May has made available to them. They hate the idea of a Corbyn-led government. The Tory Brexiteers meanwhile are even worse strategists than the Marxists behind the scenes at Labour. They organised two failed coups against May towards the end of 2018 They are outnumbered in their own party by remainers but May has tried to keep them onside by setting her Brexit agenda. She’s failed at that. Ironically it was these people that the Brexit referendum was supposed to shut up once and for all. It’s just made them worse and they occupy a very small space on the green benches of the Commons.
If ever there was a time for some consensus building and consensus decision making it was now. Instead we have a system and a political class used to a binary situation of winners and losers; a system where you publish your policy and you succeed or not via a good old slanging match, preferably in public and televised live. If ever there was a time to see how official politics is failing it is now.
Taking back control? Yes, we should! We should take back control from the super-rich arch Brexiteers in the Tory Party preventing progress, we should take it from the Marxists playing strategy games with national politics purely in the hope of power for their man.
Britain’s decline seems now to be accelerating, ironically brought on by a desire to halt it from happening at all. That’s what Brexit was: a plea by the people to feel good again. The British are going to feel a lot worse as this crisis deepens and the effects will last decades. There is anger at politicians. It will likely lead to calls for better politicians. We can only hope and make the case for systemic change: really taking back control.