By Mitch Gregory
Last month a whole continent went to the polls in the second largest democratic process in the world. Considering these elections were never meant to take place in the United Kingdom, they sure did cause a stir.
Arguments over whether Leave or Remain won the elections, as if that matters, have been flown across newspapers an twitter alike; the casualties of this election have been significant: a Prime Minister, a Government, potentially two political parties, and the Leader of the Opposition.
So where do we go from here? This isn’t House of Cards, there is no big season finale which will nicely tie up loose ends and plot points will converge to resolution, no, it is seemingly increasingly more likely that the country will end this year more divided and angry than we entered it. Who knew that was possible.
If we look at the options we’ll likely face over the coming months, a solution doesn’t jump out. Firstly, a ‘People’s Vote’; seen by some as an attempt to overturn the 2016 referendum, seen by others as a way of breaking the impasse, and seen by most as a waste of time which will only divide the country further. Especially if Remain were to win. A second referendum would work to fix the country if Leave won again: who could argue with two victories? But if Remain were to win it’d be even. Would we need a third one to break the tie? The only way another vote could conclusively end is if the options were between Theresa May’s, albeit dead, deal or No-Deal, described recently by Tory leadership hopeful, Jeremy Hunt, as ‘political suicide’.
Secondly a General Election. If the Conservatives win we’re back to square one with nowhere to go. If Labour win we’ll certainly need to delay Brexit again and if one looks at the Labour Party’s policy on Brexit it doesn’t offer us much more clarity than we already have—so an election, while fun, probably isn’t the best way forward. Again, the only way an election would work is if there was some kind of SNP/Labour/Liberal Democrat/Green coalition wherein Labour were forced to adopt a second referendum. But then again, see above for why that isn’t as clean-cut.
For me, a mere observer, the answer must be compromise. Not a Theresa May style “Give me what I want or no” compromise, nor a Jeremy Corbyn “Let me stay on this fence” compromise. A real one, with the European Union. A Norway-style Brexit for instance, or something of that sort. That way we will be further away from the EU than we are at current, we won’t be out, yet, but we will be on our way to leaving. Sure, Brexiteers may find that hard to stomach but which would they put first: their political project, or the economic, social, political stability of the country. Unfortunately, the answer even to that is as clear as fog.