ANDREW ADONIS: How I learned to love hung parliaments

PUBLISHED: 20:33 30 November 2019

Speaker John Bercow in the House of Commons as they debate Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire.

Speaker John Bercow in the House of Commons as they debate Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire.

HOC/JESSICA TAYLOR

A hung parliament is the UK's only hope of stopping Brexit and Tory extremism, says ANDREW ADONIS.

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When I was young, you only needed to say the words 'hung parliament' in an election campaign and Middle England fled to Thatcher. It was like brandishing the crucifix.

Come to think of it, wasn't that David Cameron's winning line against Ed Miliband in the 2015 'coalition of chaos' election, which seems almost as long ago?

Nowadays hung parliaments are our only hope. They are all that protect us from Brexit and undiluted Tory extremism.

The dynamic of this election is now clear. Leaving aside what the Chief Rabbi and arbiters of middle opinion think of Corbyn, we are reaching the point where nobody except the Abominable Snowman thinks a majority Labour government is coming down the chimney with Father Christmas.

At least, that is the conclusion I draw from the polls. Trying to find a real live voter prepared to open their door in the dark, the cold and the rain is like Peter Cushing in search of the Yeti, as intrepid as it is perilous.

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So the question is: Do you want Brexit and Johnson, or a hung parliament which would hold a referendum, give you a chance to stop Brexit, and act by consensus in other areas?

Particularly after the last nine years, when the only parliaments that didn't race towards the cliff edge were the two which were hung, unlike the short Cameron majority government of 2015-16, which did more damage more quickly than any since Eden's Suez government of 1955-57 and Chamberlain's appeasement government of 1937-39.

Suddenly a hung parliament looks positive not negative. This is why it is still possible that Middle England - sorry, Middle Britain - may collectively opt for it in a fortnight's time.

For the equivalent in this election of the famous question to the young woman who married the 80-year-old magnate - "what was it that first attracted you to the billionaire?" - is this: "Why are you so enamoured of stopping Brexit while not being lumbered with Unconstrained Johnson or Unconstrained Corbyn?"

A hung parliament to stop Brexit would be strong not weak, undertaking the greatest act of national salvation this country has seen since the Attlee government of 1945, with its huge majority. A coalition of common sense not a coalition of chaos.

True, its mandate would be weak once Brexit is stopped. Maybe there would then need to be another election to decide the government and future we want beyond the end of Brexit.

But that will happen if Brexit goes ahead too. It's just that it will be years and years away because it will take that long to 'get Brexit done'.

Indeed in a 2024 or 2029 post-Brexit election I think I know what the most popular policy might be... 'Hold a referendum to reapply for membership of the European Union.'

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