So here we are. As the Brexit dust settles, taking the shine of certainty off of our social, economic and political futures, a prime minister is in waiting deciding which shoes to wear to her imminent coronation.
Labour’s PLP is hell bent on ignoring the wishes of its membership by busting a gut to oust Jeremy Corbyn, sharpening its knives in anticipation of a blood sacrifice on the moving altar of electability and refusing to admit that what used to be one Labour party has now become two.
Remember when a week used to be a long time in politics? Now the hours between midday and evening news bulletins are enough to radically alter administrative team lists. All that’s needed is some background music which stops abruptly now and then for the goings on at Westminster to be mistaken for another game, beloved of children’s, rather than political, parties.
A significant body of the remain camp, bruised and bewildered as we are, seem to be succumbing to a future outside the EU with what could easily be mistaken for old fashioned British stoicism. There’s talk of realignments and progressive coalitions but whatever menu of future possibilities you buy into, the deep divisions illuminated by recent events are unlikely to disappear the way those within the Conservative Party always do when their grasp on power is perceived to be loosening.
For my part I wish Theresa May every success. With luck she’ll be remembered as the prime minister who pulled a coherent settlement out of the Brexit hat. Her problem, and it’s a fundamental one, is that the leave campaign triumphed on a wave of non-specific populist protest. That protest has severed Britain’s EU membership rather like a surgeon removing the wrong leg. The symptoms Brexit voters sought to alleviate by voting out are likely to persist. The needs and aspirations of small town Britain will be elbowed out of the priorities queue, as always, by the lobbying muscle of the vested and the now strengthened mandate of reactionary conservatism.
There is a minuscule and rapidly diminishing possibility that parliamentary responsibility will reassert itself and fail to invoke Article 50. Sadly most commentators seem to agree that that would be a hornets nest stirring exercise rather than a timely reminder of what we actually elect our MP’s to do, i.e. govern.
So, now that we’ve got our country back, it should be up to us to decide what that country will become. We need to approach the revocation of EU treaties with the diligence and scrutiny that should be afforded all legislative initiatives. The referendum seems to have caught Britain’s political attention. If we can sustain that interest it could herald a better briefed, more sophisticated and inclusive political reality and surely that’s something we all want. Who knows, with all this talk of undemocratic institutions and taking back control there’s the outside chance of overhauling our own democratic machinery by way of a proportional refit.
Well, one can dream.