This Friday will mark exactly 4 weeks until Britain’s intended departure date from the EU. Are we ready? Well, short answer – yes, with an if; long answer is no, with a but. That’s not the idea for today for I think it’s much nicer if we focus on different prospects, such as one of a delayed exit. Now, that is a card that should have been dealt since Chequers, when the specks of brown stuff were whipped from the fan blades. I digress – watching Newsnight provided me with gravity regarding what the overarching theme is here, for there are struggles abound and it is the unabashed morality of Westminster that is bridging the gaps. From Austin to Soubry, here we go.
It was Austin that brought it all to light. Ian Austin, recent defector from the Labour Party and an advisor to Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor (I hate that word – always implies the rebel is doing something wrong) was candid about his reasons for departure, stating that the Holocaust was linked to the past of his family and it would be unforgivable should he stay. A shade overdone? Unlikely. Today’s Evening Standard gave us the proof that not only is anti-Semitism still a raging issue for the Labour Party, it’s a “major problem” that is not receiving due attention or due cure. Of course, we could never ascertain exactly to what level this prejudice is pervading through politics but to leave implies there’s a great deal of fragmentation. Just how long have the maverick MPs in Labour had to put up with this?
For Soubry, it is a different degree of indignation. I actually emailed her a few months back regarding the debate over whether MPs deserve to be abused in public but never received a response. Maybe I now have the answer; nonetheless, her support for a second EU referendum has led to her joining the Independent Group with other defectors Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen. Her dedication is personal too as it does seem she’s unable to recognise her former party any longer, criticising May for allowing rhetoric from the DUP and the ERG (a pro-Leave cohort, despicable in the daylight) overwhelm Tory concerns. If you needed proof of Soubry’s snags, take a look at the latest Brexit developments – May’s over a barrel having delayed the vote in Westminster (by March 12th, she says. I don’t blame you if you’re not paying attention any more).
Remember what I said some two weeks ago, about us needing more time? It didn’t take a genius to figure that, and a genius I isn’t. There are some romantic overtones to these defections – I get the sense that there’s an embellished sense of sadness and regret that it’s all crumbling since we have come so far. How sweet – they actually think we’ve made progress! These defections are not the manifestations of pressure, they remain the paramount example of frustration in Westminster. Maybe this will ignite the morality of other MPs, after all.