David Shirreff: Headless Chickens – The EU Elections and Brexit

The EU elections are over. Nothing is settled and Britain stands before a monumental dilemma – or two.

David Shirreff is one of the founders and current editors of BRAVE NEW EUROPE. He is a former finance and business journalist at The Economist, author of “Break up the Banks!”, and playwright

Image result for wikimedia commons british chickens

The Labour Party’s poor showing in the EU parliamentary elections must surely have shown its leader Jeremy Corbyn that dithering over whether Labour policy is to Leave the EU or Remain is a bad thing. Labour scored 14% of the poll and lost all but 10 seats in the European Parliament.

But Mr Corbyn is still dithering, despite the fact that his right-hand man John McDonnell has now said that the issue must be taken back to the people in a “public vote”. That might mean a general election or a referendum, but it’s an acknowledgement that co-operating with the present government on a Brexit deal is no longer an option. Mr Corbyn must then still have some lone hankerings for a negotiated Brexit, but for how long?

The lesson of Britain’s EU election night is that voters wanted parties that are clear about where they stand on Brexit. The Labour Party was not: 14.1% of the vote. The Conservatives were not (9.09%) of the vote. The Brexit Party was as its name implies (31.6%), and so were the Liberal Democrats, as fervent Remainers (20.3%).

But where is the leader strong enough and unifying enough to lead Britain out of this mess? Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, charismatic though he may be, is a mere gadfly with no developed policies to run the country. The upcoming Conservative leadership election looks likely to be a re-run of July 2016, when back-stabbing and confusion led to the appointment of one of the least charismatic prime ministers of all time. The only runner with a modicum of gravitas is Rory Stewart, but Ladbrokes’ odds on him are a mere 20/1. The probable victor will be either a hard Brexiteer, or a moderate heading for an impasse, as did Mrs May.

This leadership battle is the last thing the country needs as business leaders and civil servants combat the damage done daily to Britain and Europe by the uncertainty of the Brexit cliffhanger. It is a sad truth that the Conservative Party is more concerned with its inner workings and personal feuds than it is with running the country. Since the age of caring Conservatism, long before Thatcher, that has become an endemic fault. And although the Labour Party does appear to have greater concerns over inequality, housing, health and education, there is little sign that it has much more than a yearning to right the wrongs of its previous time in office under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

So what will be the solution? The pressure for a People’s Vote is mounting. One, perhaps wishful, analysis of the EU voting is that the Brexit parties, Brexit and UKIP at 34.9%, polled fractionally less than the Remain parties, LibDems, Greens and Change UK, at 35.79%. Wishful, and wistful, because two-thirds of the electorate did not vote. And those figures probably included many protest votes from habitual Conservative and Labour voters. Moreover, the pressure for a People’s Vote will not necessarily find the right mechanism to trigger one. A majority of MPs must decide on a People’s Vote, and there is no sure sign that a majority would be in favour, even after last night’s upheaval.

The hard Brexiteers, whoever is their future prime minister, will attempt to stall all other negotiating procedures until October 31st, when the extension of Article 50 expires and in theory Britain is pitched out of the EU. If Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and current 6/4 favourite, becomes prime minister, there will be an almighty struggle, assisted by Nigel Farage (with his posse of 28 newly-elected members of the European Parliament), to pitch Britain out of the EU even earlier.

Two escape routes are possible: either, a general election is called, whereby the Labour Party has a chance to recover the following it lost by dithering over Brexit. A new Labour government, or Labour-led coalition, would then precipitate a People’s Vote. Or, a minority Conservative government led by a moderate, with no further options, would call for a People’s Vote.

Meanwhile we have the prospect of UK politicians running around like headless chickens, while Britain’s economic and geopolitical assets burn and the new Brexit Party MEPs wreak havoc in the European Parliament.

If you like this kind of article and want to see more writing free of state or corporate media bias and free of charge, please donate here. We welcome your support.

1 Comment

  1. Business as usual. Maybe some UK parties are run by headless chickens-the Lib Dems for certain, even though they have a clear plan, which is to support the EU project until the bitter end- but the Tories have method in their madness. The Tories are in government and in control, only to give it to Corbyn for a time, when it suits their strategic purposes.
    If it would suit the Tories, the appropriate conditions for a GE would be engineered. The same applies for a second Brexit referendum, or a third if one takes into account the put-up job in 1975. Evidently, the time is not ripe for either a GE or another Brexit referendum. It does not suit the Tories. The Tories are dug in, and show no signs of being willing to allow themselves to be levered out of their bunker. So far, they have demonstrated an almost suicidal propensity for staying put come hell or high water, trying to wear down Brexiteers in every way, even shredding the Constitution and taking liberties with long-established precedent, making a mockery of the law and its principles and legitimacy.
    They have shown a remarkable similarity with EU tactical and strategic methods. Anything to wear down real opposition, bending the rules, breaking their own laws when it suits. There is no end of machinations and Machiavellian manoeuvres. The mooted people’s referendum will only make the Brexiteers more determined never to
    give up. Besides, another referendum cannot break the dead-lock. It will have no legitimacy whatever unless it were another clear vote for a clear and unambiguous Brexit. No point explaining yet again why any other outcome would be an outrage against democracy. To confer legitimacy upon a Brino or Remain win in another Brexit referendum while Brexit has not in practice happened and tried for a reasonable number of years would make a mockery of Parliamentary democracy in Britain. This, in fact, is the plan, what the Remainers are aiming for-To destroy Parliament, democracy and the British system of government so as to make the EU supreme. Hence, not another Brexit referendum unless it is certain the Remainers win. A GE before its allotted time only if it suits the Tories who are really in charge. Who, really, is in charge of the Tory party, in charge of government and the bureaucracy? It must be some cabal well out of sight. The alternative does not bear thinking about. To think that the main actors in the EU and the prominent member states are the principals in charge…, no, it couldn’t be true. They haven’t the gumption, they’re lost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*