The greatest single condemnation that one can level against British politics when reflecting on the last twelve months is that, as we go into the last 100 days before our planned departure from the European Union, neither the government or the official opposition have a clear position that anyone other than the most ardent supporters of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn would claim to be anything other than shambolic.
The prime ministers’ mantra of “my deal, no deal or no Brexit” appears to have been amended this week to “my deal or no deal”, a further indication that she is a woman who, if not stupid, is certainly incapable of learning from experience. The only people who admire this rhetoric are those within Jacob Rees Moggs’ mob the ERG, who tried to stab her in the back and front only last week. Why, oh why, does she feel the need to continue to placate a rump of her own parliamentary party? I assume because she recognises that the Conservative Party membership’s view of the EU is more closely aligned to the ERG than to hers. That is no good reason. Her job is to govern for the good of the nation, not for the good of the Tory Party. She has failed miserably, and unsurprisingly will now face revolt from a number of pro-Remainers on her backbenchers who are threatening to resign the Tory whip in the new year.
Across the Westminster chamber, we have a Labour Party who have been peddling a couple of myths for two years now that have inevitably unravelled this month. The ‘six tests’ that the opposition set for a ‘jobs first’ Brexit could not have been met by any negotiating team, and they know it.
Its biggest challenge, however, has been to keep the vast majority of its supporters and members happy. Once the party conference in Liverpool back in the Autumn committed Labour to a second referendum, the party leadership has been on the back foot.
Jeremy Corbyn is, at heart, a Brexiteer. He has been able to keep his acolytes on-side with the notion that he had a chance of forcing a General Election, thus making a second referendum null and void.
As the clock ticks down, even his most fervent disciples must surely realise that game is now up. And, anyway, even if a Christmas miracle were to happen and a ‘no confidence’ vote in the government could be won – what exactly would Labour’s policy on the EU be going into a General Election? Answers on a postcard please.
The question that many of Labour’s MPs will now have to ask themselves over the Christmas break is do they stick with this phony narrative in 2019, or do they, like some of their Tory counterparts, threaten to declare UDI to ensure that the catastrophe of ‘no deal’ is avoided.
Call me naïve. Call me optimistic. Call me a stupid man. I cannot believe that our parliament will allow us to initiate an act of such self- harm as a ‘no deal’ Brexit would result in.
It is that, and only that, which enables me to go into the new year with any degree of hope and confidence for our country’s future.
I wish all of you a happy Christmas and a Brexit-free new year. See you all on the other side.