The United Kingdom is in the throes of a political crisis as Prime Minister Boris Johnson undermines parliament – but to what end? Well, no one seems to know.
The United Kingdom is in acute political, economic and social chaos, which has led to protests erupting across the polarised nation.
Targeted propaganda; outright lies circulating on bright red buses; dark money linked to foreign players, were all outed as the instruments that swung the vote to the Leave side in 2016.
Unfortunately, these ploys were only uncovered by investigative journalists, by anti-corruption campaigners and by courageous civil servants, in the wake of the referendum.
By then, it was already too late to fix things. Facts on the ground had been created successfully by behind-the-scenes players, and Theresa May’s abysmal failure to hold them to account over the years was followed by her cowardly resignation which catapulted Boris Johnson to power. He could thank no majority whatsoever for his election – not even in his own Conservative Party.
Johnson immediately began towing the extremist line of the new Brexit Party, stating that Britain – come hell, high water or Hard Brexit – would leave the EU on October 31.
This Hard Brexit that Johnson and his enablers are looking to get away with, could send Britain’s economy into immediate decline; wipe further value off an already devalued currency; take a colossal toll on the NHS (Britain’s most laudable asset, which is very much dependent on EU doctors and nurses); cause shortages of basic foodstuffs and medicine including the insulin I depend on as a diabetic, as does Theresa May.
The consequences of a Hard Brexit are understood to be so frightening, with their suggestion of a return in peacetime to the tribulations endured by Britain at war, that many Leavers have changed their minds completely, becoming chastened Remainers instead.
Opinion polls can have mixed results, but some show that a majority of British people now want a second referendum whereas a recent survey has it split down the middle. Only a minority of hardened ideologues are irresponsible enough to insist on the national self-mutilation that is a Hard Brexit.
Britons of all generations, classes and origins expressed their anger right across the country, taking to the streets in massive numbers last weekend.
To keep his Hard Brexit from being sabotaged by such dissenting voices, Boris Johnson has mounted what can only be referenced as a coup d’etat – ordering that Parliament be prorogued from the 10th of September. This would make it practically impossible for MPs to find time to debate and potentially block the most vital challenge facing the UK in post-war history.
The hope is that Johnson has foolishly overreached. Opposition to his strongman strategy is growing. The Liberal Democrats, who are the lead Remain Party, are working hard to stop his undemocratic actions before the date of implementation. They have gone on record denouncing the notion that an unelected prime minister should seek to shut down Parliament, at a time when a historic vote is likely to take place in it, that may well result in Brexit being stopped at the eleventh hour.
Even the closet Brexiteer Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, was forced to come out against Johnson’s Hard Brexit, after waiting too long to take a meaningful stand.
Britain’s poor; its workers and farmers; its nurses and teachers, will not look back with much kindness on Corbyn’s Kremlin-style stewardship of the Labour Party. As livelihoods and jobs are lost, it is hugely ironic that it is establishment figures like Chris Patton and Michael Heseltine, who have revealed themselves to be more socially-focused than many in Labour’s Politburo, and more concerned with the fate of Britain’s most vulnerable citizens.
I was in Westminster during the demonstrations against the Prorogation of Parliament, and watched as people chanted: “Boris Out!”
There was a point when I saw the crowd divide as a dozen members from the Brexit Party kicked off their counter-demonstration near Downing Street. This caused widespread fury among the Remainers, so much so, that the metropolitan police had to intervene. I felt the atmosphere was very different on that Saturday than it had been at of the People’s Vote marches I had participated in weeks earlier.
What I witnessed this time was widespread anger against Boris Johnson personally and his government. It was an anti-Johnson demonstration, which demanded that he stop his rash decision to suspend parliament.
But what measures can be taken to achieve this?
According to the Liberal Democrat MEP Irina von Wiese whom I interviewed, there is a very valid attempt by all pro-Remain parties and groups – including Conservative backbenchers, who she believes are equally outraged by this action, to stop Johnson’s attempt to muzzle parliament. One way forward, she thinks, is to put together a majority to pass legislation very quickly in both Houses, thereby forcing Boris Johnson to ask for yet another extension of Article 50.
Another way is to press for a vote of no confidence in him or his government. There would then be just fourteen days to form an interim government of national unity. MPs come back to work on September 3rd.
Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, with an eye on power, may well call that vote of no confidence. If Boris Johnson loses that vote, the pressing question will be: who will become Britain’s new Prime Minister?
Politics would come into play, as most Remainers – especially those who are Lib Dem voters – would not like to see the Brexiteer Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, because of the way he has failed to make the Labour Party the rescuing hand that pulls Britain from collective suicide.
The only certainty is that uncertainty prevails as the UK’s democracy hurtles towards a historic split from the European Union in the absence of a guiding hand.
Author: Alexander Seale
Alexander Seale is a journalist, as well as a radio and television broadcaster in French and English. He is a specialist in French and European politics and culture. He lives in London, where he trained at the BBC.