The results from the recent by-election the recent by-election for the Oxfordshire seat of David “pig appreciator” Cameron, Bullingdon boy and officially the 3rd worst PM in UK history (and that if we’re honest is being unfair on Antony Eden and Douglas-Home, I suspect in a few years once we assess the damage he’s done he’ll be in the number one spot), are worth commenting on. They seem to prove the points I’ve been making post-brexit.
The Tories won, but with a reduced majority. Labour however fell from second to third place behind the lib dems. Labour under Corbyn has positioned themselves as a pro-brexit party. Corbyn and the hard left not only want brexit, but a hard brexit has they see it as increasing their chances of getting elected (given the fallout that will follow) and it will make it easier for them to impose their hard left policies. They’ll just have to cover their eyes and ears while the Tories destroy the legacy of the last 70 years of progressive labour party governments, in the hope that they’ll be given the chance to destroy the legacy of past Tory governments later. In essence they are prepared to help the Tories burn the house down, on the off chance they get the chance to set fire to the garage afterwards.
Given such factors, its clear the lib dems are filling void as the anti-brexit party of the 63% who didn’t vote for brexit. Or at the very least the party that will push for a soft brexit, with a view to re-entering the EU at some future date. Its a little too early to tell what the impact is on UKIP. Given that the Tories have essentially turned themselves into UKIP, its possible they’ll become an irrelevance. On the other hand, I still reckon the Tories aren’t going to get their way on brexit negotiations and when things go wrong UKIP will be there to gobble up the hard brexit bigot brigade vote.
Obviously do the maths and you’ll see the balance of probability is, next election, the Tories will probably be the largest party, with a fractured labour party 2nd, but the lib dems likely third. They will be king makers and my guess is they’d sooner go into a coalition with the Tories (in exchange for a 2nd EU referendum on either the terms of brexit or on cancelling out the first one), than back a Corbyn government riven with infighting (of course if Corbyn gets the boot between now and then it or labour splits this would change things significantly).
Meanwhile in Brussels its obvious that if the UK is hoping for an easy time from Europe, that ain’t going to happen. There’s even talk of holding the talks in French, just to spite the English. The EU governments, other nations (such as Japan) and corporations (the banks and car makers for example) have given as firm a signal as one possibly can that the UK isn’t going to get anything like the deal they expect, largely because the EU has bigger fish to fry right now than pander to a few English bigots throwing a childish hissy fit.
There’s a theory that the only reason why May is talking about a hard brexit is a negotiating tactic in the hope the EU will come to her on their bended knees begging her to stay in the single market, upon which she can extract concession on free movement. Well that isn’t going to happen, because for practical purposes both are essentially linked. Beyond some window dressing, its difficult for the EU to offer anything more. The EU isn’t going to be nasty, they’re going to read the UK the riot act at the end of March and then let events take their course.
And speaking of trade agreements, one of the arguments of the brexit brigade is how the UK would be forced into adopting the conditions of trade deals negotiated by Brussels, even if the deal negatively effects certain parts of the UK. Well consider how an EU trade deal with Canada is now about to collapse as a result of a referendum in one region of Belgium. Yes one tiny bit of the EU has essentially just vetoed a trade deal between two large economies.
Now ignoring the side argument as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, it directly contradicts the position of the brexiters. As I’ve long pointed out political reform in the UK would achieve far more than brexit. Furthermore, let us imagine it is the UK negotiating a deal with Canada and one small part of the UK (say a few coastal towns in Wales) is worried about the impact it will have on local jobs in say, the fishing industry (let’s assume the trade deal will effectively see UK fishermen priced out of their own market). Do you think a Tory minster will say no to such a deal, knowing it will benefit the country as a whole (notably his paymasters in the city of London), while a few voters in largely UKIP/labour seats will find themselves unemployed? Of course not!
All the warning signs are there, its a question of people listening to them.