BedsLife Nov 2016 A new kind of politics?
The detail will come in time, however on the process of Brexit I think at present there is an opportunity for something new. The referendum told us a lot about our country, and how people felt. One thing was emphasised - the disenchantment with the political process, with ‘Westminster’, and the sense that people ‘were not listened to’. The campaign for the Referendum disappointed people, who largely believed that neither side told the truth, and exaggerated their case beyond credibility.
If, as Government and Parliament, we approach the response to the vote in the same old way I don’t think we will address those sentiments. Instead I am arguing in the Commons that we should recognise what is different about the outcome and consequences, and adapt accordingly. There has been no election, and no manifesto. Neither the Government nor the Opposition ‘won’ the Referendum. So we have no party position to defend to the death. We have a clear instruction that we should leave the EU, but beyond that there is a blank sheet of paper.
It is, to my mind, Parliament, representing every sector of the public that should deliver, in alliance with Government, not just our departure from the EU, but our arrival somewhere else. This means listening – perhaps through our Select Committees- to all those who are affected by leaving the EU, and hearing what really matters to them. There are big strategic questions such as whether, and on what terms, we stay in the single market. There are issues of detail in farming, environment and welfare, and the terms on which EU citizens come and stay in this country, which affect the millions of UK citizens who live and work abroad.
So let us devise a process for our negotiations which enables people to have their say, and be listened to. For Government to demonstrate that its position will be determined by engaging with wider society. In the end Government must make decisions not all of which will suit everyone, but which will have Parliamentary authority and support gathered in a different way from what has put so many people off.
It’s a challenge. Are you with me?