Yes, Jeremy Corbyn is shit but he’s not Boris Johnson so can we all just grow up and work together?
Cast your mind back to November 2016, and allow me to massively oversimplify something to make a point. American voters were faced between a bad choice for president and an awful one. The awful people were always gonna vote for the awful person. The bad people were always gonna vote for the bad person. And the good people were obviously not going to vote for the awful choice, but also didn’t want to vote for the bad one.* They could either swallow their pride and vote for the bad one to keep the awful one out, or not vote for anyone and retain their imaginary moral high ground. Flash forward three years, and a court just had to force the government to give children soap, sleep and toothpaste.
Over here in the UK, we scoffed at them. Why would you refuse to vote for a centrist when the other choice is a fascist? Their pride stopped them from preventing a narcissistic moron into the most powerful office in the world. We’d never do that.
Flash forward three years…
Right, now here’s three boring but important paragraphs:
Boris Johnson was, let’s say, “elected” on the promise that he would deliver Brexit by October 31st. Parliament has rejected the deal we spent 2 years negotiating with the EU 3 times. The EU is refusing to change the deal. Parliament has voted to block the UK leaving the EU without a deal. Boris’ only option to keep his promise is to bypass parliament.
He has two options. He can prorogue (a fancy word for close) parliament. Former Tory PM John Major has threatened to sue him if he tries this, and speaker of the house John Bercow has vowed to do everything in his power to stop this from happening. So that’s a no go. Another way to close parliament would be to call a general election, and hope that he wins a large enough majority to prevent the opposition from voting down a no-deal Brexit.
On the other side, Jeremy Corbyn plans to table a motion of no confidence in Boris’ government. If he wins, both the government and opposition would have a chance to form a government that passes a motion of confidence. If no one can secure a majority, a general election is held.
Boring but important paragraphs over.
Now I could speculate about what would happen in a general election. The latest YouGov poll shows a fairly even split between the Conservatives, Brexit Party, Lib Dems and Labour. But as we’ve seen since 2016, polls are dumb and never right. And the likelihood is that it will leave parliament even more divided than it is now.
So it seems like the best way to prevent a no-deal Brexit is for remainer MPs to band together, vote for a motion of no confidence, form a cross-party government, revoke or extend Article 50, and call a general election to let the people decide who they want to get us out of this mess. Simple. But who would lead that interim government? You’d think it would make sense for the current leader of the opposition to lead the opposition. Not if you’re Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. Jo Swinson wants Mummy and Daddy to fix everything.
For context, Jo Swinson wants a cross-party emergency government to be headed by Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman. Clarke has been a Tory MP since 1970, and last served on the front benches in 2012 as Justice Secretary. Harman has been an MP since 1972 and while serving as deputy leader of the labour party from 2007-2015, where she twice served as leader of the opposition during leadership elections. As the longest-serving male and female MPs**, they hold the unofficial titles of Mother and Father of the House. The logic being that they are old, respected and palatable to remainers in both Labour and the Tories. Sure.
Now she might succeed at uniting some Labour MPs and some Tory MPs, but the majority won’t be willing to work with the party that they’ve spent most of their lives opposing. Brexit may have caused a huge divide in our country, but the divide between left and right runs deeper and longer. The argument against a Corbyn led emergency government is that the Tory MPs don’t like him. To that I say, good.
Corbyn has not been a good Labour Leader. He was absent from the EU referendum, he refuses to work with those who disagree with him, he is either an antisemite or willing to overlook antisemitism for his own gain, and his MPs mostly hate him. But, he won two landslide leadership contests, has great progressive policies, and isn’t a Tory. Of course he’s not going to be popular with Tory MPs. He wants to tax them properly.
“The argument against a Corbyn led emergency government is that the Tory MPs don’t like him. To that I say, good.”
I’m not saying we should overlook any of the negatives, especially the antisemitism rampant in the Labour party, but right now the left needs some unity, even if just briefly. Corbyn’s proposal would make him Prime Minister long enough to do three things. Pass a law definitively preventing a no-deal Brexit, extend Article 50, and call a general election. That’s it. This isn’t a socialist coup. It’s just a call to give the entire voting population a chance to decide our future, rather than just the Tory membership.
An emergency government bringing together the left-wing MPs under an unpopular and divisive leader is the bad option. A disastrous no-deal Brexit under a government headed by an outwardly racist, lying idiot who has failed upwards into the highest office in the land is the awful option. Here’s hoping MPs can put aside party politics and come together for a week or two to save the country from decades of financial ruin. We’re fucked, aren’t we?