Updates from Brexitland
Image courtesy of Sky News.
It’s time for yet another day of covering Brexit. You might be getting tired of the same old story – no progress, parties fighting, and prolonging the process with no end in sight. Thankfully, there is some news that, while it may not bring an end to Brexit, is at least different and new.
As I said last week, things were in a holding pattern to give the EU time to determine whether a Brexit deadline extension should be granted and, if so, how long that extension should be. On Monday, we got an answer. The EU extended the Brexit deadline from October 31st to January 31st of 2020. In all honesty, the new deadline probably doesn’t matter, as I expect another deadline to be agreed upon in January.
However, there is a situation where another deadline may be unnecessary: a general election. As luck would have it, the UK is set to hold a general election later this year. Yesterday, Parliament voted to have a general election on December 12.
Unlike the American system, UK general elections have a number of parties which win seats in Parliament. These parties generally ally with one another to increase their relative power in Parliament. As it stands, neither of the “major” parties – the Conservative Party and the Labour Party – have the numbers to act independently. Neither has the size to ignore all other parties and force their agenda through Parliament. As a result, the major parties are somewhat beholden to the “minor” parties, and therefore they can’t get what they truly want out of Brexit.
This could be different after the election, though, as a decisive victory by either side could see a Conservative Brexit or Labour Brexit pushed through with no regard for what the other parties – or the rest of the country, for that matter – want.
While this is possible, I think a one-sided Brexit is unlikely, as it would be political suicide for the party implementing it. I assume that a Conservative Brexit would enrage any non-Conservative in the UK, which would lead to a decisive defeat in the next general election for the Conservatives. The same goes for the Labour Party.
In other words, I believe any Brexit plan which gets implemented will have to be one that’s a result of compromise between all of the parties involved, particularly Conservative and Labour leadership. Compromise sounds great because, at least in theory, it means everyone wins a little. A win-win is great, but it also requires that everyone loses a little.
This is the exact situation in which we currently find ourselves. The problem with the need for compromise is that nobody wants to compromise, which means a Brexit deal won’t get done anytime soon. Sadly, I expect this reality to extend beyond the December 12th general election and the new January 31st deadline.
To sum this all up, even the new developments don’t really change anything, as I suspect that any general election result will lead to the problem we’re facing right now: a stalemate.
This stalemate is what I find most troubling about the entire Brexit process. The UK government, like most governments, pretends to uphold “democracy” and “give people a voice.” The people were given a voice on June 23, 2016 when they democratically voted in the Brexit referendum.
If Parliament cared about democracy and giving people a voice, they would’ve enacted Brexit by now. The people clearly voted for Brexit in 2016 – albeit narrowly and in a non-binding referendum. Nevertheless, Brexit is what the public wanted, and if the UK is going to continue to call itself democratic, it should get on with Brexit and carry out what the people voted for.