The beckoning tones of The Speaker have not been echoing in the chamber for some time, which can only mean one thing, as Mr Bercow takes his seat in the chair once more as MPs return to Parliament. Like children going back to school, the MPs are eager to catch up with one another and get on with the job of which they have been sent there to do. Big Ben may not be sounding for a while but nevertheless, like the show, politics must go on. The crippling Palace of Westminster, which is in desperate need of repairs is, for now, the bastion of free speech and debate to which our elected officials are now returning to.
However, with the looming shadow of Brexit hanging over the palace what is the plan of action of some of the major political parties for this Parliament.
The Conservative Party – What have we done
They are in government by the skin of their teeth. Undoubtedly, the snap general election nearly threw them to the other side of the Commons and giving someone who they thought was unelectable, the keys to number 10 Downing Street.
The main objective of the Conservative Party and the government is to see Brexit through, that is the only reason Mrs May is still in office. Many figures in the party know that the handling of Brexit is a sort of poison chalice, even after it is over, the scars on your political career leave unable to continue in front line politics as a credible minister. The Brexit negotiating team will most likely deliver a half way point update during the two-year negotiating period in March 2018. This will be the first indication as to how talks are actually going, Additionally, this will be the first instance we get to ascertain what Britain outside the EU will look like.
This parliament will put the Conservative Party on trial. On how they deliver Brexit could push them to electoral suicide should they get it wrong. Furthermore, the Brexit debate has aged and tarnished the party. The divisions over Europe has poisoned their ideology. Therefore, when all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed on the Brexit debate, the Conservative party need to rebrand and detoxify ready for the next election.
The Labour Party – Still in opposition, for now
The outsider leadership hopeful who led the party to a better than expected general election. He survived a coup by the parliamentary party and has taken on his fair share of rebel MPs. The general election has given immense power to Jeremy Corbyn, so much so that the party has grown in confidence of his leadership. However, despite the momentum being with Labour, yet again they are still in opposition.
The performance in the election was better than many have thought, even the Blairites like Alastair Campbell had to congratulate Mr Corbyn’s performance, he tweeted;
‘This election is a rejection of May and hard Brexit. A vote for one to go and the other to be revisited.’
Despite the congratulations, Mr Campbell, who has written a book entitled ‘Winners’, was still not content with his party being number two. He stated in a second tweet that Labour had a ‘Long way to go’.
Overall, the Labour Party will want to enact the will of the people in the EU referendum and will likely aid Mrs May, where possible, in her legislative agenda. However, expect the party to take full advantage of its opposition day debates, to hold the government to account of the handling over Brexit. Labour will undoubtedly pick apart everything the PM brings before the Commons with a fine-tooth comb.
The Liberal Democrats – New leader
You might be forgiven for thinking, ‘are they’re still going?’ but it’s true, even more so since the snap election as the party managed to pick up more seats. This included the seat of their new leader, Sir Vince Cable. The Lib Dems suffered under the hands of the electorate for their coalition with the Conservatives, but in this Brexit climate, what is the future of the party?
If you are what some in the media dub a ‘Remoaner’, then the Lib Dems are the party for you, with Vince Cable announcing in his first speech as leader he said we need an ‘exit from Brexit’ The Liberal Democrats proposed in their manifesto to have a second referendum on the terms of which we leave the European Union, thus giving people the option after this entire process, to choose to remain within Europe. Despite regaining seats, the party is not back to its full strength since before the 2015 election, but they will still be a meaningful voice with in the Brexit debate in the coming months.
Parliamentary Rebels – Still not towing the party line
They are loathed by party whips and even more so by party leaders. Rebel MPs could decide which way crucial votes go in the Commons. Usually, their actions are to scorn the government or even defy their own party leader. Famously, Jeremy Corbyn voted against the whip a record number of times. With such divisions over Brexit, there is an abundance of rebel MPs on both sides, who could cause a bit of upset in the Palace of Westminster during this parliament, here a few who are likely to be both a pain in the backside of the government as well as their party leaders.
- Anna Soubry: Conservative (Remain)
One of a small handful of Conservative MPs who still wish to remain part of the European Union. She was a staunch remain campaigner, urging the public to choose “hope over hatred” in a BBC Question Time special. Currently pushed to the farthest back-benches of the Commons it is highly likely during this parliament that Soubry will continue to be a nuisance to the government.
- Chuka Umunna – Labour (Remain)
Like Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna is a believer in Britain still remaining part of the EU. Like Soubry, Umunna is going to frustrate the Labour whip by defying their stance on how they allow Brexit to happen.
Nigel Farage – Watch this space
Now I can hear the howls of laughter and scoffing at the idea but don’t rule it out. Famously, UKIP branded themselves as the guard dogs of Brexit at the 2017 general election, when in actual fact their performance amounted to no more than a tiny Chihuahua. Jokes aside, UKIP is one of the most successful one issue parties in UK history, their campaigning resulted in a constitutional change in the country. You can laugh at them, you can even hate them, but the one thing you cannot do is delegitimise their status in British politics.
The success is down to their former leader Nigel Farage, who stood in the 2015 general election in the heavily Eurosceptic seat of South Thanet. After losing to the Conservative party candidate, it was later revealed that they had over spent on their campaigning. This resulted in the MP being charged with electoral fraud.
Currently, UKIP has no representation in the Commons, but Mr Farage has threatened to abandon his LBC radio show and return to front line politics if there is any Brexit backsliding.
Like the plague, when you think it’s gone it only comes back stronger. After all, you can’t barrage the Farage.