For those remembering how people in the former USSR in 1989 were clued to their TV sets watching heated debates in Gorbachev’s Peoples’ Congress that ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the stormy opening of the British Parliament thirty years later (3 September 2019) and the attention it received from the Brits may revive eerie sentiments. The newly anointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson was squarely defeated in the very first challenge he faced in Westminster. The House of Commons voted 328 to 301 to take from the Government the control of the agenda, allowing the MPs to bring a bill requesting a Brexit delay. Snap general elections are now also on the agenda.
When people say that a multitude of avenues are open for the young and all depends only on their will and hard work, the people – both old and young – look forward with high expectations. However, when we today say that in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, since the summer of 2016 mired in the Brexit process, unprecedented variety of outcomes are possible (and it is true), most people in the Kingdom and also on the continent dread even to think about these options. None of them seems to be good and what may be acceptable for some looks awful for others.
In, what one may call normal, circumstances such a mess within the governing party would be a godsend opportunity for the opposition Labour party. Not necessarily so this time. Not only those Tory rebels, who detest Boris and his policies (they have so far been only empty promises), but also Lib-Dems (the only unequivocally pro-European party) in the Parliament and their electorate, dread of having the current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the country. They consider him to be, rightly or wrongly, excessively leftist and too incompetent, and certainly unable of showing a firm stand at this crucial moment in country’s history. His lengthy sitting on the fence and wobbling on important issues related to Brexit demonstrated that he too is more concerned with coming to power than with saving the country.
The majority of MPs, complaining about Boris Johnson’s assault on democracy when he decided to suspend the Parliament for the unprecedented five weeks, leaving thereby little room for opposing his run towards a no-deal Brexit, seem to have forgotten that during the three years the legislators have been unable to decide on anything related to Brexit. Could they agree on something now being backed into a corner? Maybe yes, maybe not. As the prominent British constitutional lawyer Vernon Bogdanor said in the interview to the French Le Figaro: “The ‘remainers’, to whom I belong, have lost all sense of proportion. The liberal elites are poor losers and this feeds populism”. Boris Johnson’s promise to conclude trade agreements with other States, particularly with the United States, when liberated from the shackles of the European Union will predictably lead to London becoming even more dependent from Washington. Tony Blear became known for his support of the Iraqi 2003 invasion as “Bush’s poodle”; Boris Johnson, if he survives, may well deserve a similar canine title.
How has the relatively stable and prosperous country come to that: the Government against the Parliament, and the people against the politicians of all sorts?
How Britain will pass this revolutionary moment in its history will depend not only on British politicians and its electorate but also from the will and wisdom of European leaders. Meddling through as usual is not any more good enough. These are times for visionaries with will-power. Where are they? Where do they come from?