Brexit defections reveal frayed fabric of UK politics

British and EU flags flutter outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Over three days of high political theatre in London this week, three members of May’s right-leaning Conservative Party and eight from the leftist Labour opposition have quit their parties to become independent lawmakers.

LONDON (AIWA! NO!) – Brexit has torn the fabric of Britain’s political system, say a group of 11 lawmakers behind a dramatic series of defections that have sent shockwaves through one of the world’s oldest and most stable parliaments.

But the group needs to incite a much wider rebellion to achieve its goal of triggering a rethink over the country’s exit from the European Union and smashing a two-party structure that they say is no longer fit for purpose.

Former Conservative Party MPs Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston and a former Labour Party MP Joan Ryan arrive at a news conference in London, February 20, 2019
Over three days of high political theatre in London this week, three members of May’s right-leaning Conservative Party and eight from the leftist Labour opposition have quit their parties to become independent lawmakers.

“Where will it lead? It could lead to nowhere, it could become a footnote in the history of Brexit, or it could become the beginnings of the break-up of the party system which has been going for the last 100 years,” said Tony Wright, Emeritus Professor of Government and Public Policy at UCL university.

“They need numbers. You’re going to need some cabinet resignations, that would really set things moving.”

Just 36 days from Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has yet to find a divorce deal with the EU that parliament will approve, leaving the world’s fifth largest economy and all its global investors staring down the barrel of a potentially chaotic exit.

Over three days of high political theatre in London this week, three members of May’s right-leaning Conservative Party and eight from the leftist Labour opposition have quit their parties to become independent lawmakers.

It is already the most significant breakaway group in almost four decades for a parliament in which the two main parties have formed the government of the day for almost a century, largely restricting smaller groups to the political fringes.

The defectors, now known as ‘The Independent Group’, say their old parties have been hijacked by far-left and far-right factions, leaving the centre ground of British politics unmanned and powerless to exert its influence.

“You don’t join a political party to fight it, and you don’t stay in it and skirmish in the margins when the truth is the battle is over and the other side has won,” said Anna Soubry, the one-time Conservative minister who resigned on Wednesday.

NO CHANGE TO BREXIT ARITHMETIC

Brexit has proved to be the tipping point.

The 2016 referendum that split the country 52-48 percent in favour of leaving also divided both main political parties, drawing a new battle line in parliament between ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’ that cuts right through traditional party loyalties.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.