Angela Smith MP

Penistone & Stocksbridge

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Labour and the Tories lost out in the elections because they offer little Brexit clarity

Printed in the May edition of the Farmers Guardian

The country has just taken part in in European Elections, which of course were never supposed to happen. A clear indication, if one was needed, that the Brexit dream promised in 2016 is utterly undeliverable.  

The country looks as divided as ever, with Farage’s new Brexit party doing well, picking up most of the old UKIP vote and a part of the 2014 Tory vote too. On the other side of the argument, parties which were clear about supporting Remain also did well, out voting the Brexit party in the popular vote in another sign that the public mood is swinging against departure from the EU.

For Labour and the Tories these elections were a complete disaster, with both gaining their lowest share of the popular vote for more than 100 years. The Prime Minister succumbed to pressure and announced her departure the day before the election and Jeremy Corbyn is also under intense pressure because of his refusal to fully support a second referendum.

Both these parties suffered because they offered little clarity on their approach to Brexit.  They became victims of a crisis in which the country is now deeply polarised; what matters is not party affiliation but Remain or Leave. 

With “no deal” now being talked about seriously by many of the candidates to be the next Prime Minister it is becoming even more important the people are asked to participate in a Final Say referendum.  Given the very divided nature of the country, a No Deal Brexit would be not only economically catastrophic but could also work to afflict deep and lasting damage on the social fabric of the country.    

Time is running out and crashing out of the EU feels increasingly like a definite possibility. Now more than ever we need adults in the room. Both main political parties need to stop putting narrow party considerations first and the only way left to do that is to put the final decision on this critically important issue back to the people.