The Art of a Brexit compromise

It is almost universally acknowledged that British politics has never been more volatile, contentious or divisive; it is perhaps the only thing a majority of people agree on!

On Wednesday night, the House of Commons became the living embodiment of a house is disarray. At a time of acute national importance, with our latest Brexit deadline looming and the necessity for subtle diplomacy, compromise and pragmatism never more important, instead we were served with raucous debate, cheap political point scoring and our Prime Minister shrugging off calls for a moderation in his tone as ‘humbug’.

We saw our parliamentary democracy on the ropes; with the executive and parliament at loggerheads, and our parliament locked in a seemingly never-ending Brexit inspired stasis. The words of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition may have won them applause from the benches behind them, but they only served to widen the gap between the two sides. We are now faced with a politics where debate is more likened to battle, where both sides take a winner takes all approach; this is not the foundations for healthy democratic debate, neither is it conducive to passing a Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons.

Brexit is undoubtedly the most contentious issue of our time. It was the biggest democratic exercise in our nation’s history; it is a vote our politicians pledged to honour, and I fervently believe it must be delivered. The path to majority lies in a deal; it is here that best serves to not only heal the division within our country, but also in parliament. To do this our politicians must recapture the spirit of compromise and pragmatism. These are not negative assumptions that the European Union will not budge, neither is it a betrayal of the referendum decision. It is time Parliament relinquished its ownership of what ‘Brexit’ means and opened its eyes to what it means to those who made it; the British people.

For in reality, debates around the backstop, or the single market, or customs union, are trivial in comparison to the outrage at the inability of our parliamentary democracy to deliver Brexit. It is no longer a question about whether you are Conservative or Labour, it is about whether you believe in our democracy, and are willing to protect it. Delivering Brexit will provide our nation with the opportunity to heal, and our people to trust our parliamentarians.

It is undeniable that Brexit has exposed the frailties of our democratic system. It does not mean it is irrevocably broken; for I believe in the indomitability of our parliamentary democracy. Within Westminster lies the mother of all parliaments, a beacon for the values of liberty, freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and democracy.

If we can recapture the spirit of compromise and pragmatism, I believe we can deliver Brexit; we can begin to heal our country, and build a future that we can all be proud of. The only question is, are our politicians willing to put the country, before their parties?

by Patrick O'Connor

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© The New Briton 2020