From Brexit to the Cult of Corbyn: Is British Politics Still Exciting?
Let us flashback to the morning of the 24th of June, 2016. David Dimbleby, with some shock, announces that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. Nigel Farage and the Eurosceptics are the victors whilst the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, quietly plans his resignation. It is fair to say no one, not even the “experts”, could have envisioned this remarkable victory that would become the first major event in a global wave of populism and protest voting, culminating in the election of Donald Trump. Less than a year earlier, Jeremy Corbyn surged to victory in the Labour leadership election, marking a new direction for the party. Following years of New Labour dominance and an apparent shift towards the centre of the political spectrum, Jeremy Corbyn and his Corbynista followers seemed keen to take the party back to its roots and bring common ownership back to the forefront of left-wing politics.
Everything seemed rather exciting. It appears that now, however, we are stuck in a political rut. The positivity and hope for a more prosperous Britain that radiated from the leave campaign has now largely been overcome with a feeling of uncertainty and survival, in part because of the negotiating tactics of Theresa May and the stubbornness of Brussels, with their failure to concede that a trade arrangement would be mutually beneficial to both sides sat around the negotiating table. The promises from Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Gisela Stuart, who all claimed that the UK would be in a stronger position to sign trade agreements with the rest of the world are slowly fading into obscurity. This is not to say that they were wrong. Outside of the Customs Union and single market, the UK would indeed be less restricted in terms of trade deals with the rest of the of the world: China, USA, Japan are all countries who have expressed their desire to strengthen ties with a “Global Britain.” However, one could argue that instead of an atmosphere of excitement regarding the UK’s exit from the EU, a feeling of pessimistic compromise has ensued. What was originally an exciting time for this country has now descended into a state of panic and apprehension. It has been over a year since Article 50 of The Lisbon Treaty was invoked, setting off a two-year countdown until the 29th March 2019, when the UK will officially exit the EU. Despite this, negotiations remain stale, and it has not been confirmed whether Mr Barnier and his European colleagues will accept the terms of May’s Chequers proposal or not, which will of course also have to pass through Parliament.
Is the Chequers deal an exciting proposal for the future of this country? Not necessarily, no, but it does represent a pragmatic approach towards securing some form of agreement with the EU, essentially bolstering both business and consumer confidence post-Brexit. If one were to observe the core proposals of Chequers however, it is little more than a meagre amalgamation of the purists’ Brexit proposed by the Eurosceptics and the softer approach, enabling us to retain some form of mobility framework for travel, whilst also putting an end to freedom of movement. Perhaps one of the most contentious aims of the plan is to tolerate some form of joint jurisdiction with the European Court of Justice. This would ultimately mean that UK-EU agreements would be interpreted by courts in both countries, with the UK even having to adhere to some rulings of the ECJ, a move which has been criticised by ardent Eurosceptics like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who claims that such an agreement will not give full sovereignty back to the British parliament in Westminster. Ultimately, far from being an exciting period for this country, where we should be paving the way for a brighter future outside of the EU, we are being forced to bend the knee for Brussels.
If Brexit isn’t as exciting today as is it was once hoped it would be, the same goes for the current state of party politics. The issue surrounding the personality cult of Corbyn within the Labour Party is not one which is likely to fade away anytime soon. Despite being elected by a movement of Labour members never quite seen before, the prospect of Mr Corbyn ever holding the keys to Number 10 Downing Street is far from exciting, it is rather disconcerting; not just for Tories, but for many of his former supporters who democratically elected him as Leader of the opposition. Allegations of anti-Semitism, his past of questionable allegiances and his blatant disregard for criticism has led to many former supporters, particularly of the younger generation who once supported him, to fall out of step with his political image. Despite this, Corbyn refuses to go, creating a situation where the Labour Party are simply stuck on a never- ending path towards an outdated brand of left wing politics.
All in all, though British politics may have been enthralling just two years, the current state of both Brexit negotiations, as the EU plainly reject May’s Chequers proposals, and indeed party politics itself, appears to have become a rather stale tableaux. Instead of an atmosphere of excitement and hope, a feeling of deep uncertainty and panic has enveloped the UK. The answer to this problem? We cannot and must not be bullied by the bureaucrats in Brussels. In order to regenerate a feeling of eagerness for this country’s future, we must combat the EU’s stubborn approach with a strict nature. We must be prepared to walk away with no deal.