British politics is broken

Three years since the Brexit vote and we have lost two prime ministers, the opposition, global authority, and the ability to conduct civil political discourse

British politics is broken

Brexit has broken our political system. 

The vote for control has stripped us of it, and the outcome continues to devour everything in its path as it rages on, unabated and unresolvable. 

Two prime ministers have fallen in its wake – the one who started it, and the one who was sacrificed to it. Both underestimated the complexities of the issue, and failed to make a compelling case for their position.

We now have a Government clinging on with a wafer thin majority, propped up only by a party of dinosaurs that are actively opposed to reproductive freedom, and equal rights for LGBTQ+ people. 

Extension after extension was granted, and each time wasted while those at the top continued to fight amongst themselves over which unworkable plan to have dismissed by the EU next. Three times a deal was presented to Parliament, and three times they voted it down. It was dead on arrival, killed by red lines drawn by our own Government without consultation or support, and by a total failure to understand how the EU works. Every time it was countenanced that this was the only deal we were going to get, as demonstrated by no meaningful change ever being made to the frankly toxic Withdrawal Agreement, and still our politicians voted it down, without ever throwing their weight behind a new plan.

And where is the opposition in all of this? The situation should be an easy win for Labour — nine years of cruel austerity and omnishambolic faux-leadership from the Tories — but time and again they manage to score a series of own goals. Voted (twice) as leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn has abdicated his responsibility of providing clear direction and messaging for the party members and the public. He instead continues to fudge, obfuscate and ‘consult’ on what the official position should be, three years on from the initial vote, and long beyond the point it became obvious that Brexit wasn’t going to work. Over 80% of Labour members have said they want a second referendum and to remain, yet Corbyn’s own political convictions puts him at odds with that.

He was voted in on a platform of change, but the only change we’ll see if this continues is the growth of the Liberal Democrats and Greens as Labour haemorrhages Remainers, and a country that crashes out of the EU while the Tory Party implodes. The concept of a ‘jobs first’ Brexit is a fallacy, unless they mean that jobs are first to go, followed by workers rights and environmental protections. A promise to renegotiate is pointless if we’ll only ever be bartering on how much worse off to be.

The tragic thing is that this doesn’t look to be any closer to a resolution. Rather than looking to fix the ongoing crisis, the Tory Party have instead opted to continue focusing on what they care about most — the survival of the Tory Party — by wasting what precious time is left to hold a leadership election. They’ve managed to whittle down the list of inepts and egocentrics to just two, but what’s tragic is that at the end of the process we’ll still be left with either a Johnson or a Hunt in charge of the country. 

I’ve spoken at length about my dislike of Boris Johnson, but this leadership campaign has really demonstrated the vapid and empty nature of his character. He has nothing to say and takes forever to say it, avoiding any accountability and bludgeoning through any line of questioning that requires nuance. One of the most disastrous Foreign Ministers in memory, he made a mockery of the office, and even had to apologise to Parliament for comments that led to the exacerbation of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation in Iran. Jeremy Hunt is no more innocent, managing to cause the first ever strike within the NHS, with emergency care withdrawn by junior doctors as a result of his punitive contracts. 

All of this takes place at a time where the need for intergovernmental unity is at an all-time high. The United States is adopting an isolationist foreign policy, and have a President who is looking increasingly unstable every day, resulting in a leadership vacuum on the global stage. 

Now, more than ever, the EU has an opportunity to step up and demonstrate that leadership, taking the drastic action on climate, privacy trade and aid. Britain should be spearheading that movement, and instead we continue to let our moral and political authority erode while we argue about the best way of securing a worse deal than we have now.

Public trust in our political institutions is crumbling fast, along with any chance of reconciliation. Both sides of the debate have now become so entrenched and tribal in their positions that any conversation immediately turns toxic. Every action is assigned a political motive, and we’re devolved ourselves into actually questioning whether it’s acceptable to ring the police about potential domestic abuse cases.

A second referendum might not solve the issue, and it certainly won’t heal the divide, but what is there to lose at this point? Any opportunity to move out of the quagmire must surely be welcomed by either side. Time is ticking, and with it goes our credibility and our power.

Header Image Credit: Pixabay


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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  • Chris Webster

    On 4 July 2019, 10:47 Chris Webster commented:

    One of the more imperceptive and stupid blogs to emerge from the Remainer camp. Brexit isn't "broken" because BREXIT HASN'T YET HAPPENED. The British pollical scene is very divisive and toxic at this stage precisely because Parliament - who choose to forget they are accountable to the electorate and not themselves - has thwarted and frustrated the will of the people for 3 long years. The uncertainties engendered by the constant delay and dithering is why it isn't working. If these anti-British pro-EU masochists who clearly enjoy being shafted by the secretive cabal in Brussels (by all means, bend over and take your punishment, morons) continue to block Brexit then there may be a general election, and then folks - wait for it - Nigel Farage will storm into Downing Street. Ho Ho ho. I think it's called being hoist with your own petard.

  • Tom Inniss

    On 4 July 2019, 13:50 Tom Inniss Voice Team commented:

    Chris, I feel you started on the wrong note here - I said politics is broken, not Brexit.
    That said, Brexit is symptomatic of an ailing political system that had failed those who were repeatedly told that their problems were the result of the EU and not domestic policy.

    I very much look forward to reading your evidence that there is a secretive cabal in Brussels that are so hell-bent on being anti-democratic, considering Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party were just democratically elected to its Parliament...

    Also, MPs are accountable to the electorate, but they are representative MPs which means we bestow democratic power to them to operate in our interests, and clearly a number of MPs feel that turning our back on our single largest trading partner - not to mention security ally - is probably not in the best interests of those they represent.

  • Chris Webster

    On 4 July 2019, 17:11 Chris Webster commented:

    One further comment, after which I don't intend to waste any more time on someone so badly informed. You ask for evidence of a secretive anti-democratic cabal in Brussels. Are you kidding? Look no further than the newest replacements for Junker, Tusk et at. These appointees (note, appointees - they were not elected) were chosen in secret behind closed doors. Did any of the MEPs from any of the member states get a choice with respect to their nomination? Nope. As for Nigel Farage's Brexiteers, yes of course they were democratically elected to the EU Parliament - democratically elected by the BRITISH ELECTORAL PROCESS - which I have not yet impugned as being anti-democratic: (I was referring to the political entity known as the EU which is profoundly undemocratic with disturbing totalitarian tendencies. Just because we have some MEPs sitting on their backsides in the EU Parliament as spectators to the circus doesn't mean they have any actual power.

    As for the EU being our biggest "security ally" come off it. Their chief contribution so far is to act as an escort service for illegal immigrants (they regard the UK as a vast dumping ground for "undesirables" and criminal elements, much in the same way the Australian colonies were for the British in the 19th century) The USA is and always has been our most reliable and best ally when it comes to security issues. Nor does the U.S administration routinely insult and denigrate the British government as do the sneering bastards in Brussels. I do not refer to the long-suffering European citizens whom I respect and fully support in their ongoing struggle against the EU Superstate, by far the worst totalitarian structure to emerge since the Third Reich and present-day Communist China. A people should not be confused with its politicians. And Europe should not be confused with the political entity known as the EU. Most Brexiteers want to maintain friendly relations with European sovereign nation states. It's not just Brexiteers who loathe the EU and recognize it for what it is. Huge numbers of people all over Europe are protesting and rebelling - the Italians, the French, the Greeks etc. etc. I guess you wouldn't be aware of that since you probably get most of your views from the incredibly biased and anti-British EU-funded Brussels Broadcasting Corporation AKA the BBC.

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