I wrote an article about a Tory-Labour coalition after the next election a little while back. Most of it was a bit tongue in cheek, well aware as I am of the things repelling both of the two main parties from such a possibility. However, there is one set of circumstances under which I could see it happening.
Imagine David Cameron is still prime minister post-May, meaning the Conservatives either have a majority or have done another deal with someone. One of the first bills the new parliament receives is one legislating for an EU referendum to take place in June 2017. At this point, the referendum being on, the Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers bide their time. Cameron does his renegotiation thing and comes back saying he’s got a great deal and that he’s going to campaign for Britain to vote to stay in the EU.
If Cameron insists on this being Conservative Party policy, what do Bone, Cash, Davies, et al, do then? There’s no way they’ll go along with that surely. Do they cross the floor to join UKIP, an entirely plausible possibility? If they do and their numbers are such that the government no longer then has a majority, what happens next?
This is where the grand coalition could come into play. Cameron can plead with Labour that if the government falls at this stage and he’s replaced by a Eurosceptic Tory looking to reunite the Right (which would be very likely in that set of circumstances), then a Brexit might be on the cards. He asks Labour to join the government simply until 2017 in order to keep everything afloat and ensure Britain stays in the EU, with a commitment to a general election very shortly following successful completion of said task.
It’s still unlikely to ever happen given the fallout from the whole thing could greatly damage both main parties. For instance, Labour has a fair few Eurosceptics on its own backbenches to contend with, ones who would almost certainly not cross the floor. However, remaining part of the EU, which the leadership of both parties realise is of paramount importance, could be enough to see the emergence of a “national government”. What’s really amazing is that the whole political scene has even gotten to this stage. Cameron must have thought that he had the whole situation sussed when he gave the Bloomberg speech. I can imagine how it all seemed brilliant from a desk at Millbank. Unfortunately, we now are where we are, the massive danger that a Brexit would pose to the nation undersold by both of the two main parties, despite each of them being fully aware of it.
Which is why I’m so worried about the next election: never has everyone sleepwalking into systematic collapse been met with such a mixture of indifference and ignorance.
Steve Peers says
Surely Cameron would have a free vote and relax party discipline on Brexit. So this scenario is unlikely.
Surely a new election would just be called in that case