And so, Britain is once again heading to the polls ahead of schedule. For the third time in the last five years, the British public will be asked for their opinion of who should run the country. After the Fixed Term Parliament Act was passed, we were looking at a future where Prime Ministers could not call a general election whenever it suited them. And the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition lasted the full five years, not without its trials and tribulations but the country had five years of continuous government.
Theresa May called the last election to strengthen her position to try and shove through whatever Brexit deal she might be able to to cobble together. That backfired and she limped on for two years trying to make so many different people happy that she was bound to fail in getting her deal through Parliament. And now that he can’t crash the UK out of the EU just yet, Boris has decided to go for it and has managed to get a motion through the house to hold another general election.
My overwhelming thought on all of this has to be ‘Why does anyone think this will break the deadlock in the House of Commons?’ Make no mistake, this is going to be a Brexit election. Where the parties stand and how they will proceed with Brexit will be central to how well they perform at the polls. No matter what Johnson and Cummings said when they tried to prorogue Parliament, they were trying every underhanded trick they could think of to reduce Parliament’s ability to properly scrutinise the government and circumvent the Benn Bill that put it into law that Johnson would have to request an extension to Article 50 if no acceptable deal was on the table by the 19th October. Corbyn has already promised to renegotiate a deal with the EU and then put it to the public in a second referendum. The Liberal Democrats meanwhile have publicly mooted with simply revoking Article 50 and cancelling the entire process of leaving. Whatever else is in the manifestos will be tempting sweeteners or desserts after the main meal of their Brexit policy.
The country is still where we were three years ago. We’re still struggling to define what the hell Brexit even is. Yes, a marginal majority was returned in favour of leaving the European Union but the question was so badly worded that no one had an idea what Leave voters actually wanted instead of EU membership. If you asked a hundred people who voted leave why they voted the way they did and what they would prefer to EU membership, you’d probably get a hundred different answers. That, to my mind, is one of the most compelling reasons why we still haven’t gotten a Brexit deal through Parliament. It wasn’t just Tories who voted for Brexit either, old school lefties also voted to leave. But Theresa May was so keen to be seen to being getting on with it and moving forward that she triggered Article 50 and thus the process to leave far too soon, before any debate on what a potential Brexit might actually look like could be held and a plan agreed to by the party at least.
Theresa May tried to use an election to bully the electorate into allowing her to push her Brexit deal through and was cut off at the knees, leaving her and her deal vulnerable to the point where she couldn’t do anything. Johnson is trying to use an election to stuff the House of Commons full of toadies that will blindly follow his lead off the cliff edge. Like her genius plan didn’t work, neither will his. Because they haven’t seemed to have figured out that they aren’t half as clever as they think they are.