British voters now face a general election brought about by Parliament’s failure to implement the resounding Brexit mandate it was given in 2016. The U.K. is already on its third prime minister since that referendum and this will be its third legislature.
U.K. political leaders will be hoping that electors have extremely short memories as they try to convince them that only their party can deliver a solution.
After three-and-a-half long years, the best they have to offer voters is a revamp of Theresa May’s failed deal, another referendum on leaving the European Union (EU), and calling the whole thing off.
The only party offering Brexit free from an EU deal-with-strings is Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Currently, they have no MPs, but they did manage to come from nowhere to win the EU elections in May and no one should ever underestimate the indefatigable Mr. Farage.
After having his initial offer to form an electoral pact with the Conservative party snubbed, Mr. Farage had a surprise VIP caller on his evening radio show last week. President Trump, no less, rang in to say he would like to see him working together with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The president said, “I know that you and he will end up doing something that could be terrific … an unstoppable force.”
But there is just the big problem of Boris Johnson wanting voters to support his EU deal, while Mr. Farage wants the U.K. to leave without a deal.
This disagreement could prove decisive. In the last two U.K. by-elections, the Brexit Party and Conservatives both fielded candidates, whereas the Remain parties used a tactical voting strategy of having only one anti-Brexit candidate stand.
With the Leave vote split, it allowed Labor to win the first seat and the Liberal Democrats the second, meaning two more Remainer MPs in Parliament.
Unless the two Brexit parties follow suit in this general election, it could be all over for the U.K. leaving the EU. So, which party will blink first in this “Deal or No Deal” standoff?
The radio show host took the opportunity to ask his White House caller what he thinks of Mr. Johnson’s deal and the president gave a damning response, “To be honest with you … under this deal we can’t make a trade deal with the U.K.”
Downing Street immediately went into panic mode and denied that Mr. Johnson’s deal would block a U.S. trade deal. They know this is crucial to making a success of Brexit and the president’s frank disclosure could influence the election.
This was Mr. Farage’s opening shot across the bow. He knows Boris Johnson cannot ignore what the president said. After all, Mrs. May did and look what happened to her.
But strain is also being felt within the Farage camp and 20 of the 600 candidates the Brexit Party is fielding have just resigned over his failure to support the prime minister’s Brexit deal.
They are following President Lyndon B. Johnson’s maxim, “The first rule of politics is to be able to count.” They decided Mr. Johnson’s Brexit-light deal has the best chance of being voted through and Mr. Farage’s quest for a purer version might blow it altogether.
In an election campaign it is easy to get consumed by the “realpolitik” of winning, but they should understand that Brexit could also be lost through over-compromise.
The Conservative deal agrees to ongoing EU controls during a lengthy transition period and to pay the $50 billion divorce bill. As the U.K. has already spent that much in monthly contributions since the 2016 referendum, I guess what’s a bit more?
Meanwhile, Remainer politicians in the other parties are asking voters to become accomplices in their betrayal of democracy by letting them snuff out the 2016 referendum.
The Liberal Democrats’ leader, Jo Swinson, is the very model of a modern socialist politician — young, progressive, articulate and a democracy denier — at least when it goes against her views. What else can her party’s vulgar slogan, “Bollocks to Brexit,” mean?
She argues there was never a real majority for Brexit as its voters had different ideas on what it would lead to — but why should that disqualify their vote?
Using her logic, the Remain vote should also be cancelled as those voters may have different motivations. Not to mention the tactical voting strategy she is now employing to allow politicians — with all kinds of motivations — to win just because they want to remain in the EU.
So, Mr. Farage is right to continue to be a “thorn in the foot” of those parties who would trample on the Brexit expectations of millions and even those who are willing to give too much away.
And without his dogged determination, the Brexit referendum would never have happened in the first place.
Andrew Davies is a U.K.-based video producer and scriptwriter.