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Dissent and decency

  • Published at 05:56 pm October 10th, 2018
Boris Johnson
The future of the UK? Photo REUTERS

Is the UK about to see a change of guard in the shadows of Brexit?

In democracy, politics takes no prisoners.

It offers up different paths to a stated direction testing the popular majority and even internecine disagreement within parties. The three equations facing the United Kingdom and its ruling Conservative Party are complex and, to an extent, confusing.

Matters have come to a point where the party leadership is being challenged unannounced. Even as the government issues position papers in case of a “No Deal” Brexit, it has now dawned on all, even the huff-puff European bureaucrats, that No Deal just can’t work without some preparation.

In around five months, the UK and the European Union will have to decide what the reality will be.

Boris Johnson has put forward his plan for a “workable” Brexit along the lines of Canada’s trading agreement with the EU, that effectively tackles the headache related to the free movement of people. 

The hard border would be key customs points, rather than borders with barriers. In doing so, Johnson has pleaded for scrapping the Chequers plan forwarded by British Prime Minister Theresa May. Until now it has been the UK submitting plan after plan which have been rejected, the latest being May’s Strasbourg snub. Since then, more encouraging words have been emanating from the gridlock, with a lot of focus on the next European summit later this month.

Increasingly, it appears that the UK will be given another three years to work on the nuts and bolts with broad and intermediary steps towards the full monty. That’s a long time in politics, and big businesses will not be enamoured by time extensions. 

And so, the debate is also focusing on further concessions by Britain. Theresa May has a valid point in saying a hard border poses a threat to the sovereignty of the UK. The majority with which May currently rules, hangs together by the Northern Ireland majority party.

The new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has emerged as a potential future leader in the clarity with which he is supporting the Chequers-styled plan albeit with further adjustments. Boris Johnson has taken the bit between the teeth in his outright rejection of Chequers’ plans, to the extent that he has suggested serious moves are on to suture the fractious Tory Party.

In the midst of all this, some are keeping an eye on opinion polls which suggest, at this point, that Johnson isn’t the public’s choice in replacing May. The official policy change of the Labour Party supporting upholding the Brexit referendum results does go against most young, Labour-leaning Remainers’ views up till now. Labour has not, as of yet, suggested any idea of what plan it has if the issue was forced on them to decide.

In the meantime, we are being exposed to a fascinating battle for power, as questions are being asked about patriotism and what it means. In all of this dissent and destiny, the respect of in-party views act as a good lesson in soul searching. The faces at the Remain lobby, now reduced to a soft-Brexit, are increasingly young.

The “Leave” lobby gathers strength among the ageing populace. Whether the changing voices will be heard or not post-Brexit is unlikely to be a pretty sight. In trading terms, the EU is a bigger piece of the cake and they will not be swayed by any threats to its existence in more favourable deals that it is exempt from. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.