In March this year, we asked students whether Brexit had ‘broken’ Parliament. The results, unlike those emerging from Parliament in recent weeks, were very conclusive. To quote a Secondary student: “Yes, just yes.” Since March, things have gone from bleak to bleaker for the UK political landscape. But just how much more broken is it?
When this topic was discussed by voters, Brexit’s original deadline of 29th March had just passed and huge marches had taken place comprising of those on both sides of the debate (“No Deal? No Problem” versus “The People’s Vote”). Parliament and public alike were divided. It seems pertinent to use some of the voters’ comments to illustrate how the Brexit story has unfolded since then.
Theresa May is expected to form a deal on her own from thin air and every deal she seems to offer is immediately struck down by her MPs.
The headline news is that Theresa May announced her resignation on 24th May in an emotional speech outside Number 10. As of 24th July, she was no longer Prime Minister.
Theresa May is trying her best but we might need a new PM.
As we all know, this position was awarded to Boris Johnson after a hotly-contested leadership contest in the Conservative Party, punctuated with drug-use allegations and a list of candidates that seemed constantly in flux.
Because so many MPs are resigning it really has split parliament up.
Since moving into Downing Street at the end of July, Mr Johnson has had a sufficiently rocky ride in both his personal and political life: in June, he was scrutinised by the press for avoiding questions surrounding his relationship with his partner, after a neighbour overheard a row. Not only this, but his brother, Joe Johnson, gave up his position in politics, citing family tension. In slightly brighter news, Mr Johnson did get a dog, called Dilyn.
Politically, Parliament has been similarly dog-eat-dog. There have been several defections from the Conservative Party of late, but none more theatrical than that of Phillip Lee’s, whose move to the Lib Dems bench left Mr Johnson without a working majority. He’s also not exactly popular with EU leaders either.
British politicians, and especially the Prime Minister, are meant to act for the good of the country.
Moving forward to the present (and undoubtedly bypassing a number of other notable Brexit-based changes that have all merged into one), the Scottish court has ruled that the current suspension of Parliament - which is set to continue until 14th October - is unlawful. The Supreme Court is also presently discussing the legality of Mr Johnson’s actions. Should the suspension last for the entire five weeks, it would leave Parliament with just 18 days until the current Brexit deadline of 31st October. Mr Johnson has been accused of ‘silencing’ MPs, with Parliament descending into chaos prior to suspension. It seems Parliament is not just broken, it is temporarily defunct.
All these things considered, it seems pretty clear that our voters were right. Brexit has shown itself to be an unprecedented brute force, and such scenes have not been seen in Parliament since the time of Charles I. Heads have indeed already rolled, with further potential casualties around the corner. As one voter astutely noted, “Brexit definitely has broken parliament as they can’t come to a conclusion and time is running out.” If time was running out back in March, then it’s really going to go down to the wire now. The BBC have helpfully created an infographic that explains the possibilities from here on out, though if the last few months have shown anything, it’s that the path to Brexit is full of surprises, so this may be subject to yet more change.
It is not an understatement to say Brexit is complex, and there are many people out there trying to do their bit to make it more understandable/bearable for all involved. Here are a few ways to either broaden your understanding or just laugh at the ridiculousness of it all (or perhaps both):
- Watch: Brexit: The Uncivil War on 4OD, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings.
- Listen: The BBC plays hosts to a range of political podcasts which have Brexit at their heart. You can check them out here.
- Act: There are plenty of petitions out there with which you can show your true feelings, no matter which side of the argument you find yourself on. Whether it’s not proroguing parliament, leaving without a deal in October, or ‘Without a Deal make revoking Article 50 the default action’, there’s something for everyone… probably.
Georgie is the Schools Relationship Officer at VotesforSchools, and she creates the weekly content for Colleges and Prisons. Her blog series, Power to the Pupils, will take a retrospective look at how the results of the debates by young people in the classroom are coming to fruition – or not, as the case may be. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments about past, present or future posts.
Title Inspiration: Boris Johnson's bold claim...