The Big Brexit Squeeze

We all know The Squeeze; when we alert voters to the binary choice forced on them by First Past the Post, asking them to drop their preferred option and settle for us.

The Squeeze runs through Brexit. Theresa May tells the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers that they might loathe her Brexit proposals, but the alternative is Corbyn.  A wider, presumed “Leave,” the audience is told the alternative is “no Brexit at all.”As that would suit me down to the ground, I am told that HARD Brexit awaits if I fail to get behind whichever fantasy proposal is currently touted.

The biggest squeeze of all, though, maybe around the corner. The government nears collapse; a collapse that would leave the UK rudderless, unable to agree on any deal and, so, inexorably be sliding into a calamitous No Deal Brexit. A General Election, under the First Past the Post system that did so much to create the crisis, would not help. FPTP enforces the party blocks, limiting the choice of the electorate which it then further distorts. There simply aren’t either Labour, Remain Labour, Soft Brexit Tory and Mad Max Tory parties to vote for. Twice in the past decade, FPTP has failed to deliver the clear Commons majority that is seen as one of its main benefits. The chances of it delivering a clear majority for a single vision on Europe is, practically, zero.

The dilemma, then, would be this: actively help in delivering a Brexit deal, prop up a failing government, maybe even join a National Government with the aim of getting the UK over the Brexit hurdle or face No Deal. Destroy the UK a bit or have the UK utterly destroyed.

Should Remainers swallow pride, set aside hope and facilitate Brexit to get the country out of this crisis? Tom Watson has been making noises to this effect, should others follow his lead?

No. Facilitating Brexit will not get us out of this crisis: the crisis is Brexit. Brexit enabled by FPTP, Brexit destroying the UK and Brexit blocking action on the underlying problems of the UK. To deal with that crisis a government, possibly that “National Government,” is needed that will:

  1. Halt Brexit entirely;
  2. Use the resources freed to reform the electoral system that has contributed so much to this crisis; and
  3. Reverse the terrible neglect of the economy and society since 2015.

Those who are pro-EU should be prepared to support that, and nothing else.

The objection from the Leavers that “we had a vote” fails. The need for Remain help, the absence of a deal, the absence of the sniff of a deal, the disintegration of Theresa May’s last-ditch fudge proposal, all indicate the utter failure of the Leavers to deliver on their mandate. Their best hope is to pause, regroup and return once they have some coherent and feasible idea of what on earth they are doing.

Our best hope is to put this Brexit pantomime to one side and mend some potholes.

* Tony Lloyd is a member in Lewisham Liberal Democrats, an accountant and so pro European that he insisted on the European national anthem at his wedding.

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • William Fowler 18th Jul '18 - 3:22pm

    Sorry I thought Brexit was caused by the referendum and FPTP is currently stopping Brexit… there is no way u can get electoral reform until after the next election so it is irrelevant to Brexit, even if u managed it you would have UKIP holding the balance of power, Nigel Farage reluctantly mounting his black horse.

    I mention this as a reality check, I actually want to remain. The only way to remain is to get the EU to offer a better deal than they offered Cameron, which would then have a parliamentary majority for a second vote.

  • Little Jackie Paper 18th Jul '18 - 6:07pm

    This might make some sort of sense of pro-EU parties swept the board in recent elections and that 17m+ LEAVERs were all in Brussels demanding hard Junckerism and EMU.

    As it is William Fowler is spot on right.

    There also seems to be a rather unpalatable undertone here. The electoral system is there to convert votes cast in to seats, no more no less. This article seems to come a bit close to suggesting that the electoral system should be used to manipulate a particular outcome. I would hope you do not see that as the purpose of an electoral system! I have long thought we should have STV – but equally if the upshot of that is a CON-UKIP-DUP coalition then the only appropriate response is, ‘so be it.’ Are there any other issues where you think the electoral system should be manipulated?

  • I’ve come to the conclusion that a hard, no deal Brexit is the most likely outcome now, since as long as May keeps rolling over for the Tory Brexiteers there is no chance of us seeking a deal remotely acceptable to the EU.

    I’m also starting to think that no deal is better than a bad deal, as it will be easier to campaign to re-join the EU in the future from that position.

  • Mary Tucker 19th Jul '18 - 1:44pm

    Although I really want to stop brexit, I am not in favour of a referendum as it risks another vote for brexit. Not enough people have changed their minds . So to stop the chaos we need another general election . The Liberal Democrat s will then offer the only choice for Remain as we have not split . It needs a lesson on Parliamentary Democracy so that “the people “ understand that the MP who represents the constituency makes the decision on their behalf . If my local MP had not changed his mind , passionate about remaining before the referendum and adamant that we had to leave afterwards , maybe the discussion could have changed to “ how to deal with the result “ .

  • Peter Hirst 19th Jul '18 - 2:05pm

    best to stick to our outcome referendum though with an improved process. the more moodied the water, the clearer and stronger our message. Now is not the time to start manoevring. Our message is strong, clear and disciplined.

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