The main party leaders are useless. We need a parliamentary League of Grown-Ups to tell the British public the truth on Brexit

by Rob Marchant

What happens if normal party politics has broken down? One suspects this is the question most commentators have been asking themselves for the last several months, consciously or unwittingly, as British politics lurches from one unprecedented situation to another.

If we needed proof, it is surely in the bizarre events of the last couple of days.

First, Theresa May suffers the biggest parliamentary defeat since the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s, on the deal that she has diligently shepherded through Parliament.

Then, miraculously, she survives a vote of No Confidence the following day, in a way that surely no other Prime Minister has ever done after even much lesser defeats.

Apart from the unlikeliness of these record-breaking feats being what any PM would like to be remembered for, this is clearly not parliamentary business as usual.

Most disastrously, we now have the leaders of both major parties entrenched in fantasy positions: May’s, that some kind of Brexit deal not unlike hers can still be salvaged, to save us from No Deal, and Corbyn’s that we can still negotiate something better with the EU in time for tea.

Both are fantasists, and while they pursue their respective, dangerous fantasies, the clock ticks and Britain slides ever closer towards the No Deal abyss.

It is as if they are jointly engaged in the mother of all filibusters, each hoping that they can talk out the problem and, by doing so, force a reluctant Britain around to their point of view, against the clock. We are all victims of this gridlock, of their inability to find an adult solution to a terrible headache.

One would also imagine that, in a Commons vote on any serious option, whipping would have a good chance of crumbling to dust. When whipping breaks down, all we have are 640 or so voting MPs, with their views, principles and prejudices.

But strip away party politics – something which was for much of history a non-constitutional matter anyway*, just a convenient way of grouping like-minded souls to vote on business – and that is what we have.

Surely this is the point where we call for a parliamentary group – let’s call it the League Of Grown-Ups – who want to actually find a solution and save us from the unthinkable disaster of No Deal. This is probably the one caucus which does actually form a majority in parliament.

If that caucus – a Government of National Unity with a required lifespan of a matter of weeks – can find its way to lead Parliament, to put aside the fantasy positions of the main parties and come to a real solution, we have a way out.

It would have to be non-aligned and cover the possibilities of any remaining feasible Brexit deal, plus Remain. And it could appeal to the country, over the heads of those useless party leaders, to explain exactly what outcomes were genuinely feasible, so they could choose. No daft campaigning on dubious platforms, just a government statement on what was possible.

The opportunity to act is there, but clearly that time is running out. Members of Parliament, this story cannot end with you telling your children you had a chance to avert No Deal but you didn’t take it. You own this. The time is now.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

*Things changed, of course, with the PPERA act, which gave them legal status for ensuring proper control of areas like fundraising.

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8 Responses to “The main party leaders are useless. We need a parliamentary League of Grown-Ups to tell the British public the truth on Brexit”

  1. No surprise that Rob has reached the National Government stage, but surprising he hasn’t gone ahead and left Labour as he threatened quite some time ago. Just goes to show that Ramsay MacDonald didn’t die totally unappreciated. Some on the right obviously still revere him.

  2. Alf says:

    A Government of National Unity? You must be joking. Let’s fight for the first proper Labour government in the UK since 1945. Accept no less!

  3. Ian says:

    For sure, whilst May’s failings remain a key part of the problem, neither Corbyn nor Cable offer anything by way of an answer. Our political system is broken and our politicians have failed us all.

    It would be good to think that the ‘grown up’ politicians could come together to put an end to this ongoing nightmare, but the reality is that by the time you have discarded those worried about their personal career and those more eager to score cheap points off the other side, we simply don’t have enough grown ups left in Parliament to make a difference.

  4. Gregg says:

    As if the Tories would ever agree to that .
    As ever Merchant talking a big load of sh*te …
    Fantasist indeed .

  5. Paul Barker says:

    Couldn’t agree more but we should recognise that the result of such a League will be the destruction of both major Parties as single Blocs. Britain would get genuine Multi-Party Politics but we would still have a Voting system designed to prevent that. Stopping Brexit is just the beginning.

  6. John says:

    Danny Speight, give Ramsey McDonald credit, he introduced clause 4 into the labour parties constitution.

  7. Carol says:

    Two years plus of party politics. Not much further forward. Me me me politicians. Once upon a time some MPs understood country first, party second. Beyond despair. We need Oliver Cromwel but are likely to get no deal.

  8. John P Reid says:

    Carol, Theresa would settle for no deal,having said no deal is better than a bad deal, as she knows many Working Class northerners want that, and she needs those votes to win a election, Corbyn has always secretly wanted no deal, both win parties good on leaving the cU and SM at the last election, combined vote of eighty three percent, this no anger at the governm not,and the oppostion haven’t offered a viable alternative

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