“This was initially the Brexit election, but now it’s become so many other things”
- Louise Minchin, BBC Breakfast News, 22 May 2017
A snap election, called in the wake of triggering Article 50, meant as a thinly veiled ploy for Theresa May to exploit a colossal lead in the polls, while simultaneously cementing her vision for Brexit sans liberal lefty dissenters. Everyone knew this was what was happening when we embarked on this mess of an election, and now we’re 17 days off polling day and the political narrative is dominated by tiresome policy discussions over tuition fees, tax the bankers ad nauseum.
The Liberal Democrats are focusing on weed and a second referendum, Labour is focusing on saving the NHS (again), taxing the rich (again), and reversing their own introduction of tuition fees. Meanwhile Theresa May is getting away with her vision for a Hard Brexit, not only devoid of non white people, but with little regard for Europeans who have made Britain their home. A mediocre leader getting away with murder for the sole reason of not being a socks-and-sandals-on-the-allotment-weirdo. We’re edging towards a dangerous social conservative UKIP wet-dream vision for Britain, and no one is trying to stop it.
My extremely scientific polling (asking my liberal mates who live in North London and work in the creative sector), has shown me that the majority of Brits have accepted Brexit and just want to get on with it. The Labour Party are doing whatever they possibly can to avoid talking about Brexit (best case: to win back UKIP voters, worst case: no leadership or strategy direction.) The Liberal Democrats are living in a warped reality filled with denial. Their election pitch is to build a time machine and reverse what’s already happened. Meanwhile, Theresa May puts forward her pitch for an apocalyptic nightmare of Brexit Britain.
Where are all the liberal Brexiters? I recall the referendum campaign filled with voices calling for different versions of a free trade, single market, liberal Britain. Vote Leave were the official Leave campaign because UKIP’s Leave.EU were seen as a conglomerate of far right clowns driven by weirdos in lime green ties who masturbated over the Magna Carta. Why are these freaks the ones leading the Brexit debate?
Pragmatic moderates must accept and propose a liberal alternative to Brexit. Tim Farron’s ostrich approach to deny it ever happened is fine when you’re trying to appeal to stoner hipsters in Hackney who’ve probably not registered to vote, but does very little to shape the future of this country. (As an aside: there is a political market for calling for another referendum, and it makes sense for the Lib Dems to claim this space, even if it does abosolutely nothing to help them electorally.)
The market I call for here are Conservative and Labour moderates: Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall, Anna Soubry. Remainer campaigners who have slunked away from the limelight in the past year. If we don’t think pragmatically about the type of Britain we want to live in, we’ll end up living in a country imagined out of Nigel Farage’s deepest darkest fetishes. No one wants to go there.