Over the weekend, a lot of Remainers vented their unhappiness on social media toward the Lib Dem/SNP plan to put forward a bill that might allow parliament to bypass Labour and allow a general election to happen in December. It was said that these parties were acting in their self-interest and that what we need instead is a People’s Vote. There are many things wrong with this idea.
One is that in order for another EU referendum to work before a general election takes place, we would need a government of national unity. Corbyn won’t allow this to happen, so it won’t. This neatly coincides with Corbyn’s desire to avoid another referendum unless there is no way around it. The other problem is, as this weekend’s newspapers have revealed, the Remain camp is very far from ready to fight another referendum campaign. Think about how bad it would be if Leave won again, just for a moment. So, I would say it is both impractical and inadvisable for Remain to push for a People’s Vote before a general election.
Remainers also worry that the Tories might win a 2019 general election. Yes, they might. But really what some Remainers are worried about is that Labour will do very badly in the election and thus the Tories will win by default. There are two problems with this mode of thought.
One is that some Remainers are attached to the idea that the fate of Labour and the fate of Brexit are inexorably intertwined. This is not necessarily true at all. I still have my doubts about what a Labour government would do in regard to Brexit if they won an election. Beyond that, I think how well Labour will do in a 2019 general election will have little bearing on whether the Tories are able to govern afterward. Allow me to explain.
Labour will almost certainly do relatively badly in an election held soon. Corbyn is terminally unpopular; the party has a terrible Brexit policy, one that will not hold up under the glare of a general election campaign. Yet it is also worth remembering that the Labour vote is much stickier than most pundits seem to remember when it comes time to think about these things; Labour will do relatively badly, as I say. There is a floor to how low the Labour vote share/seat share can go. For all their problems, Labour have a group of people who religiously vote for them, geographically clustered in order to help the party under the FPTP voting system. You can count on a chunk of somewhere around 200 Labour MPs to sit in the next parliament after a general election.
The real battle is how well the Lib Dems will do. What happens to Brexit is pretty much solely down to this factor and this factor alone. Most of the Lib Dems target seats are Con-Lib marginals; if the Lib Dems do well, it will hurt the Tories directly. If the Lib Dems do really well, the Tories will be unable to form a government. It’s really that simple. This will be the case for any general election held before Labour get a new leader, and depending on who the new leader is, it may well apply afterwards.
I would also point out that the more Lib Dem MPs there are in parliament after a general election, the more likely we remain in the EU. Even if I’m wrong and Labour do well, the more Lib Dems there are, the more they can pressure Labour to take actions that make remaining in the European Union much more likely. If you want to stay in the EU, vote Lib Dem.
Doing so is much more likely to result in what you want than anything else. Again, consider the folly of trying to foist a People’s Vote onto a prime minister who doesn’t want one, all to run a campaign when the Remain camp is divided and all over the shop. All so Johnson can run in such a referendum on a platform of how parliament has forced this silly referendum on everyone and could you please vote Leave to resolve the matter and shut these people up. This while the Remain camp falls apart in the heat of the moment while Corbyn goes to Bolivia on holiday for the duration.
Let’s clear it all up, as quickly as possible. Things cannot go on like this. Johnson has just missed the deadline he said he would die in a ditch to uphold. As things stand, I don’t think the Tories would win, although these things are impossible to predict. You want to Remain in the EU and have a non-Tory government? Believe in yourselves and take the chance.