By Yusha Jung BA Arabic and English
The upcoming general election will largely be determined by the singularly stubborn issue of Brexit. To an unprecedented extent, voters are ignoring the social/economic policies laid out in party manifestos and thinking up tactical ways to vote in a government that will deal with Brexit in a way they prefer.
After Nigel Farage’s tweet on the 11th November, announcing his plan to not oppose the 317 tory seats, it is clear that MP’s are playing this tactical game as well. Farage claimed he’s putting “country before party” by not splitting the ‘leave’ vote in Tory held seats.
As a Remainer myself, and no friend to Farage or the Tories, this frustrated me. I wish that remain voters and parties could work together in a similar way to unite their votes and allow their full force to be felt at the ballot box. You see, with the possible implementation of Brexit finally looming in the near future, this election may feel like it’s a Brexit referendum all over again. But the important distinction is that leave or remain supporters will only be represented to the extent of a leave or remain government.
I was deeply frustrated with the Lib-Dem leader, Jo Swinson when she opposed moves by her own MP’s to follow suit. Canterbury’s Lib-Dem candidate Tim Walker announced he would step down in an attempt to unite remain votes in his constituency and give Labour MP Rosie Duffield the best chance of securing the seat. Personally, this would seem like a sensible move to me, considering Rosie Duffield is a Remainer, and considering the risk of splitting remain votes and letting Sir Julian Brazier (an arch Brexiteer) take the seat. The seat in question was Labour-won by just 187 votes in 2017! But my main concern is that there are plenty more seats with similar arithmetic. 7 Tory seats perch on a majority of less than 400 over their labour rivals. And 7 more, labour seats, have the same tiny majority over their Tory opponents. With the margins, this fine, disunity in party support will take all the brunt out of the ‘remain’ movement and the attempt to de-throne the terrible Tories.
Leave or remain supporters will only be represented to the extent that they can put a leave or remain government in place.
I would urge anyone fearful of a hard-Brexit, and far-right Tories dominating government, to push for unity. If we can put aside our small differences, we can make a real difference in what matters. Yes, that means a smarter approach to Brexit, but also, perhaps much more importantly it means a possible end to Tory austerity, to inaction on climate change, to shocking levels of wealth inequality, and in all optimism, an era of positive change for the people of this country.