Pensions  

Suspend your disbelief

Alison Steed

Alison Steed

When it comes to drama, the UK government currently has it all – the suspension of parliament itself, defecting MPs, rebellions, removal of the Conservative Party whip, the likelihood of a general election in October, and all without any tangible progress on Brexit more than three years after the UK voted for it.

What had been billed by now Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other Leave campaigners as a move that would be good for the UK, would give £350m a week to the NHS, and with both Liam Fox and David Davis claiming doing trade deals with the EU after leaving would be easy, is not turning out to be such a cake walk.

In fact, Mr Fox went further, telling the BBC that the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU should be “one of the easiest in human history”. As it turns out, leaving Europe at all is proving remarkably problematic.

No matter which side of the Brexit debate you are on, the moves by government to take back control of the process after Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament from September 9 until October 14 are a fascinating development, simply history in action.

The defection of Conservative Philip Lee to the Liberal Democrats, prompting consternation from LGBT+ supporters in that party thanks to his voting record, means the government no longer has a majority in the House.

As I write this, the prime minister has said he will table a motion to call a snap general election, which would happen on October 14 given the required timetable. Is it a move he wants to make?

Not according to his exclamations in parliament on Tuesday last week, but it is one he is being forced into.

The hope for everyone is that at some point, the Brexit uncertainty will come to an end one way or another.

For more than three years, the government has been talking about little else, meaning many of the more ‘mundane’ matters of running the country that need to be discussed and legislated on have been pushed aside, as time is given to the ongoing arguments for and against Brexit.

There has been no effort to compromise on the issue, to work towards a solution that gives hardline Brexiteers some of what they want but not all, and hardline Remainers some of what they want, but similarly not all.

The trouble with the UK’s political landscape currently is its polemic nature.

In other less fraught and more amenable times, the aim of politics was to discuss, debate and come to an agreement that gave the best possible outcome for all involved.

It requires give and take on both sides, not an increasingly entrenched point of view that results in no one getting anything they want.

However, we live in strange political times.

US President Donald Trump, for example, regularly picks fights on Twitter with those he disagrees with, and the associated name calling has become de rigeur.