Remember the 2017 general election? It resulted in a hung parliament which created another Brexit impasse. Holding another will still fail to solve the limbo, argues JOHNNY LUCAS.
Our country is officially in Brexit limbo. Despite winning the vote for a second reading, after their defeat on Tuesday night, the government pulled their own Withdrawal Agreement Bill. You can think of the UK as a patient who has been wheeled back out of the operating theatre after irregularities in the medical procedure were discovered.
Now an extension is being considered by Brussels, which they will most likely grant, and the conversation has turned towards what we should do with the time. All parties seem set on a general election, and the resulting freshly mandated parliament bearing the responsibility for solving the Brexit deadlock.
That is a mistake. A general election now would be like trying to perform keyhole surgery with a hacksaw. There are many more issues that will determine an election – issues that aren’t related to the crisis which has engulfed our politics for the last three years, such as climate change, the NHS and homelessness.
An unscrupulous prime minister will use the opportunity of an election to unveil grand spending pledges and plans related to these other issues. He almost certainly won’t want to examine the details of his Brexit deal; after all, it was the threat of proper scrutiny which led to him pulling it from parliament in the first place.
Make no mistake: British people are sick and tired of Brexit. We would all much rather be talking about something, anything, else. But this doesn’t mean that the solution is to dilute its toxicity by throwing it into a general election, where it will be buried under a deluge of other issues and left to fester. Rather than providing a solution, this route will present more problems.
It’s not as if we weren’t in a similar situation only two years ago. Cast your mind’s eye back to 2017. Only one in five of the votes that went to the Conservatives was because of Brexit – and a large proportion of the rest were due to “anti-Labour” sentiment, mirrored by “anti-Tory” votes that went to the Labour Party.
That election, prompted by Brexit, resulted in a hung parliament which has hamstrung the process for more than two years. It’s in everyone’s interest to solve the issue. But it has to be solved in the right way, or the resolution will cause problems for years to come – especially for the millions of young people who were denied a voice on an issue that will affect their generation for years to come. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: no-one who was born in the 21st century voted for Brexit, because they weren’t able to.
Clearly, a general election asks many questions of voters. In order to solve Brexit we only have to ask one: in the form of a Final Say referendum with an option to remain. Nothing else will solve the impasse we find ourselves in. And the clock is ticking.