Brexit is causing the two party to really shudder. It has not yet been totally broken but it has given the system a couple of shocks. Firstly, both parties lost MPs who formed the Independent group which morphed into Change UK. Nick Boles was forced out of the Conservative Party. In the past week, Philip Lee has crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join the Lib Dems. Then 21 Conservative MPs who voted against the Government had the whip removed. The PM’s brother then announced that he is standing down as a minister and leaving politics.
And finally, in the past 48 hours, Amber Rudd has decided to stand down from the government. Ms Rudd’s most substantive point is that the government is putting a lot more energy and resources into planning for no deal than it putting into trying to get a deal with the EU. Her announcement seems to have been timed so that she could get herself on the Sunday politics shows. She plans to stand as an independent at the next elections as do some of the 21.
I have never known as time when there were so many “independent” MPs. That said, these people are not true independents, like Martin Bell was. These people are refugees from their former parties which they think have moved too far to the extremes.
It still amazes me that the Conservatives seriously think that pursuing a no deal Brexit is a vote winning strategy. I know they are worried about Farage and the Brexit Party. I can see polls which still put them ahead of Labour. Johnson is still rated more highly than Corbyn.
This is not an unprecedented situation. It is similar to what happened over Home Rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The members of the Liberal Party who could not sign up to Gladstone’s Home Rule policy sat for a number of years as National Liberals. Many of them ultimately joined the Conservative Party. Labour too has had periods when there were Labour MPs of various stripes who sat as separate groups. The 21 plus Rudd and Boles may ultimately be let back into the party.
Labour and the pro Remain parties have no reason to agree to an election until after 31 October. We have the extraordinary situation in which the PM has threatened not to comply with the law of the land. It would be even more extraordinary if Johnson tied to persuade the EU not to give the UK an extension as a way of flouting the law.
I see Johnson’s time as PM being quite short. He has surely been far too aggressive and doctrinaire, given that he had a majority of 2 when he took over. He now leads a minority government that is at the mercy of the House of Commons as whole.
An awful lot of moderate MPs are standing down. They have realised that they can earn a living a lot more easily, without the hassle and death threats, outside politics.
Johnson has turned on the taps of public spending – naked political bribes. He realised that austerity was Corbyn’s strongest card and he has sought to neutralise it.
It seems to me that the country is divided four ways. There are those who want the Johnson/Farage agenda which merely masks a whole lot of policies which will benefit the rich – tax cuts being one, avoiding EU efforts to clamp down on money laundering and tax havens another, and selling off the NHS a third. There are plenty of Conservatives who have not signed up to this agenda and still want to stay in the EU.
There are those who simply want to Remain.
There are those who want the Corbynite agenda.
And there are those like me, who would like to see a cross party government led by someone like Ken Clarke negotiate a Norway style Brexit. This is undoubtedly the least likely outcome.
Independents currently hold the balance of power. The one thing they dont want is a Corbyn government. It will be very interesting to see how many of them survive a general election and emerge re-elected. The upshot of Labour still being unelectable for many voters is that we are condemned to possibly another 5 years of bad government by the Conservatives.