16 May 2019, The Tablet

Beware a party with only one policy


 

The European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom next week are unlike any in living memory, but no less important for that. The meaning of the outcome may be clouded by personality issues, however, in particular how long Theresa May can hang on as Tory leader and prime minister. The dominant personalities are Nigel Farage, who has taken his new Brexit Party to the top of the polls in just a few weeks, and Boris Johnson, who is increasingly seen as the probable new Tory leader. But as well as signing the political death warrant of Mrs May, the campaign so far has also seen the eclipse of Jeremy Corbyn, who has failed to dominate his own party let alone the public debate.

Mrs May and Mr Corbyn are both seen as colourless equivocators-in-chief who have tried to face every way in order to preserve party unity. Compromise is the stuff of politics but the partisan nature of the Brexit debate has left little room for it. So the two least compromising positions are the two options which the public could find most appealing. These are that taken by the Brexit Party – unconditionally in favour of leaving the EU immediately – and by the Liberal Democrats – unconditionally in favour of remaining.

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