Three Tory MP’s have joined the 8 Labour party rebels aligned in the so called ‘Independent Group’.
Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen have savaged Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, claiming that the Tories had shifted further to the right, adopting Ukip policies and pushing a hard Brexit.
PM May’s Parliamentary majority is now just 8 votes, making her even more dependent on the hardline Northern Irish DUP for support.
The defecting MP’s say that the Conservative party has been effectively taken over by the ‘European Research Group’ of dry right MPs, who are pushing for a No Deal hard Brexit. The ERG’s most prominent member is unrepentant toff Jacob Rees Mogg.
The white anting of the Tories is matched in Labour, say the original members of the Independent Group. Their complaint is directed at Momentum, an internal organising and campaigning faction, who function in a similar way to the Trotskyist organisation Militant, who bedevilled the Labour Party in the 80’s and 90’s.
Ironically, the leader of Militant, Derek Hatton, has just been re-admitted to the Labour Party after a 34 year ban. He was then swiftly suspended after an old tweet referencing Israel came to light.
The Independent Group now has 11 members, with presumably more to come. If other Tory MP’s defect, then the odds of a snap election increase dramatically.
While Theresa May has said she will not contest the scheduled 2022 as leader, she did not rule out the option of going to the polls early.
If she does call a snap election, it will essentially be a second Brexit referendum. I would expect the Tories would win in a landslide, despite current polling having Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives.
This is because the UK still has an old fashioned first past the post electoral system. My feeling is that most British voters are heartily sick of Brexit and just want it over with. Given that Labour under leaver Jeremy Corbyn are not opposing Brexit, voters will be inclined to let the Tories finish the job they started.
In some ways, a thumping loss could be good for UK Labour. Corbyn could then resign and claim the martyr status he so desperately wants. A retirement of cheery shrugs about what might have been awaits him down the council allotment.
As for the Independent Group, they’ll briefly flourish, but the FPP system is brutal on third (or fourth) parties. They’ll end up being a footnote in the history of one of the ugliest periods in UK democracy.
Political history is littered with splitters. Most never amount to much, though one, of course, is currently Deputy PM of NZ.
The key thing in the UK situation is disillusionment. That’s been expressed by voters in many recent Western elections, resulting in some pretty awful outcomes.
In the UK situation, that lack of faith in the Parliamentary system has now spread to the floor of the House.
That’s the real significance of the Independent Group.