Will there be a new political party in Britain?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Even before the EU referendum, it was difficult to pinpoint whether a political party was pro- or anti- Europe. Conservative Party voters were split 61:39, favouring Brexit, while 35 per cent of Labour voters went against their party's official position for the referendum. Parties that would be assumed to be fervently Europhile and Eurosceptic had some of their voters opt for the contrary (five per cent of UKIP voters were Remainers, while 32 per cent of Lib Dems and 20 per cent of Greens chose to vote Leave).
With the process of Brexit underway, after the Prime Minister started the ticking clock upon triggering Article 50 in March, it cannot be quite gauged whether a party is truly a Brexit party. Brexit means Brexit for Theresa May's government, but it may not be the case for rebel Tory MPs who want to form a cross-party group to oppose a hard Brexit. The same goes for the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn: he is playing the long game for a soft Brexit, even though many from his party want no Brexit at all.
Remainer MPs are trying to make the best out of - what they perceive to be - a bad situation, compromising their personal politics for the political reality facing Britain.
However, compromise could be put aside and the fight continued if a new movement to reverse the Brexit decision is formed.
The Financial Times argues that no new movement can amount to much "unless it is defined by an individual personality or a single proposition"; as soon as it aspires to breadth, it loses momentum and support. The origins of a political party can prove this: Labour was created for trade unionism; the Green Party for environmentalism; and UKIP to campaign for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. They argue a new movement has been in "fitful gestation" since Britain voted to leave the EU, but the breakthrough is yet to come.
This new political party, however, will not come from the centre-left, Stephen Bush writes in the Guardian. There is a gap between the average Leave voter in the country and the average Leave-backing politician in the country, and these gaps are were political movements are born. He argues that the new movement would "make the promises that Vote Leave made out of cynicism in earnest", but the chances of it happening are extremely slim.
Andreas Whittam Smith for the Independent believes there should be a new political party, but it will not be there to stop Brexit; it will make a change in the political culture post-Brexit. The new party should offer ambition: until the late 1970s, it was thought that the governments knew best, and then the belief was that the markets knew best; the change should see the mantra that the people know best. It should dispense with traditional political labels, she argues, and cover a wide-range of opinions from ordinary people.
For the time being, however, Brexit does mean Brexit - and Britain's exit from the European Union is looming. Brexit is a political reality delivered by the current political parties, if they can agree among themselves how on Earth they will achieve it.