Both the Tories and Labour face an electoral backlash over their handling of Brexit

Both the Tories and Labour face an electoral backlash over their handling of Brexit

For the last 40-plus years the United Kingdom has been wrapped in a debate surrounding its relationship with the European Union. Then in 2016 the Great British Public finally had the opportunity to have their say – and they voted to Leave the EU. While this was a severe shock to the establishment – and something they had on the whole campaigned against – they did not realise there would be the backlash and resentment we are currently seeing from those who are angry the Brexit negotiations have been handled so badly.

Within the Conservative Party, Brexit truly presented a chance to bring the party together, with the conclusion of the single most divisive issue between its membership and its MPs. Delivering Brexit could show the Conservatives as an effective force in government, which also cares about the wishes of the working class and Labour voters. The so-called ‘nasty party’ tag could have been consigned to history. How ironic it would be for Theresa May to throw this opportunity out of the door.

The Labour Party, on the other hand, was presented with the opportunity to shift away from the London-focused viewpoint which has developed since the Blair years. With a traditionally eurosceptic leader in Jeremy Corbyn, the stage was set for a principled Labour Party to drive Brexit negotiations forward in an attempt to deliver for the forgotten parts of the UK – people the Labour Party has long claimed to represent.

Instead of these two outcomes, we have seen the two leading parties within the UK throw away their chances of electoral success.

Labour have narrowed their focus even further on its young urban-centric membership. They are pushing ideas – such as a Customs Union and membership of the Single Market – which are an abject betrayal of the reasons for which many around the country voted to Leave the EU. In addition, sections of the party are even denying the result of the referendum – and calling for another – blatantly disregarding the fact 60% of Labour constituencies voted to Leave.

The Conservative Party, on the other hand, gambled in 2017 with a general election to try and increase their majority. A bad campaign, projecting Theresa May as a true statesman – which she clearly is not – lost them their majority. Since then, they have largely ignored their grassroots supporters.

Theresa May – seemingly wearing blinkers – obstinately refuses to consider any suggestion other than her own so-called ‘deal’ – a deal which is rumoured to have been wholly drafted by the EU, and not our own ministers! Even now the Prime Minister seems to be in the process of trying sneak her deal through with the support of Labour MPs, and by using sly terminology will no doubt accept having a Customs Union with the EU in everything but name. However, the negotiations with Labour do not seem to be going well – with Labour dragging their feet, perhaps believing that in doing so, they will have a greater chance of winning in any general election when May is cast aside by the Conservative Party.

Neither party seems to understand what I believe the Great British Public increasingly really want, and this is to Leave the EU on No Deal WTO terms – and now.

These failures will only grow. Through their failure to address the current major political issues, both Labour and the Conservatives are currently facing a backlash in this week’s local council elections in their traditional heartlands. This will clearly get worse if we are forced to hold the European Parliament election on 23rd May, as now looks inevitable. The majority of these disenfranchised supporters seem to be flowing into Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party – a party which will not tiptoe around the Brexit issue, but instead push for a true and solid Brexit and create mayhem in the European Parliament.

If these elections go ahead in Britain, they will certainly be a sign of things to come, should the non-traditional parties exceed expectations. The latest opinion poll by YouGov has the Brexit Party winning the European Elections with 28% of the vote. This would not be surprising, as the majority of the public who voted to Leave will want representatives in the EU who will inflict as much damage on the European institution as they can.

It is clear from their behaviour that both Labour and Conservative politicians are looking after their own personal interests, rather than those of the whole country.

Who is listening to the single biggest electoral mandate ever given? Clearly not the major parties, who are effectively killing off what little trust much of the country had in our own political system.

One of the most significant results of this may be to bring about radical change to our electoral system. With trust in political parties falling away, the likelihood of any of the current main parties achieving a majority in any future general election is likely to be quite small. This would mean we may need a change to a more proportional system of representation, allowing effective governance which would truly represent the will of the people in the future. This would need to be a ‘Single Transferable Vote’ system as used in the Scottish local elections, or the ‘Proportional List’ system used in the European elections – and not the AV system which was rejected by the public back in 2011.

Such a change would certainly give more power to Leave voters and others who have long been ignored. They could then vote for parties other than the Conservatives or Labour and see these votes actually turn into real representation. No longer would there be a situation akin to that of the 2015 general election when UKIP received nearly 4 million votes, but only won one seat in Parliament (when ex-Tory MP Douglas Carswell held the Clacton seat he had retained at the 2014 by-election following his defection). Voters deserve a legitimate voice in Parliament, breaking down the dominance of the Conservative and Labour parties. Every vote should matter.

The EU Elections in 2014 – which UKIP won under the Proportional List system – clearly demonstrated the strength eurosceptic parties have in a proportional representative system. Should general elections follow the same path in the future, we could see MPs who actually represent the people and follow through with the will of the electorate, rather than their own agendas once they sit on the green benches in Parliament.

Should the establishment wish to avoid more discontent and a reduction in their political opportunities in the future, they need to Get Britain Out of the EU now on WTO terms. The Government must abandon the idiotic polices of a soft Brexit and Mrs May’s abhorrent Withdrawal Agreement – essentially a ‘Brexit in Name Only’ – or be consigned to the Opposition benches for a very long time.