Note: Much of the background information is for foreign readers, who have no idea what is going on in Britain…
With the ongoing chaos that revolves around “Brexit” (a term that I believe trivialises the actuality), my thoughts are that it might be a “Good Thing” if the British parliament could endeavour to adopt the system of many other European countries: that of collaborative coalition between parties. Instead we have two large parties and several smaller ones that will engage in limited coalition to achieve a specific target, but are mainly deeply entrenched in their own policies.
In the UK we historically had two parties: the Whigs and the Tories. They evolved in the 20th century into the Liberals vs the Conservatives (still nick-named the Tories). Then the Labour Party emerged, representing the working class. Eventually the labour and Conservative parties became the main protagonists, with the Liberals sidelined.
Early in my “eligible to vote” timeline, the Liberals combined with some disgruntled members of (mainly) the Labour party to form the Liberal Democrats. Later smaller parties such as Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists), the Scottish National Party and the Green Party began to emerge.
In the 1970s the UK population was unusually allowed (instigated by the Conservatives) a referendum and voted to join the European Economic Community (EEC). Since then, through various treaties, the EEC has evolved to become something more similar to the USA, and several former Soviet states have joined. Not only has this become a larger power bloc, but is perceived by the Russians (their own power bloc having in the meantime disintegrated) as a potential threat as actual military integration between the EU states becomes a possibility.
Later, as the idea of leaving the new European Union (EU) – which was beginning to look like the USA or the former Soviet Union – began to raise its head, UKIP (The United Kingdom Independence Party) arrived on the scene.
The UK held another referendum in 2016 about whether to leave the EU. It was narrowly won by the “leavers” at 52% vs 48%. The instigator of the referendum, David Cameron, having not achieved his expected answer made a cowardly resignation speech and left the problem to the new leader, Theresa May. Unfortunately she deigned (possibly having no idea) to outline how we would implement the decision, merely stating “Brexit means Brexit”.
Two years of negotiation between the UK leader and the EU leaders went on. Then the leaving plan was presented to Parliament and rejected. Parliament then voted in an unprecedented step to take over the control of “Brexit”, but failed many times over many weeks to agree on any way out; or if the UK should leave at all; or indeed anything!
Next week we vote for our EU representatives, even though we do not expect them to actually take up their jobs before we leave in October 2019 (the latest deadline).
This is yet another expensive vote that will only serve to indicate the will of the public.
It looks increasingly like there will be a second referendum, costing umpteen millions of taxpayers money, to decide whether the UK will still go its own way or if we will remain as EU partners, in which case the last three years have been a total waste of parliamentary time and taxpayers’ money, both of which could well have been utilised to better public use.