The Tories are telling lies while Corbyn has a bridge with unicorns to sell you, writes Ayesha Hazarika
Westminster is smoking hot. And not in a good way. This kind of heatwave is no laughing matter. Having been brought up in Glasgow, I am not equipped to deal with this.
I know my parents are Indian, but they came here to escape this kind of godawful evil weather. Cats and dogs are begging to be shaved it’s so bad. And the heat has clearly affected British politics because it has gone into meltdown.
MPs head off for their summer break this week and some of us would normally say it was “well deserved”, but they haven’t covered themselves in glory and leave behind what can be only be described as a genuine political crisis.
Brexit has trapped us in a what Danny Dyer brilliantly described as a mad political riddle where the business of running the country has effectively ground to the halt. Although to be fair that hasn’t just happened this parliamentary term. Government ministers, advisers and the civil service haven’t had the bandwidth to focus on the rather difficult day job of running the country since David Cameron called the EU referendum because the toxic politics of the campaign took over.
Ironically for a campaign which was dominated by the slogan “take back control”, domestic British politics has spun out of control. We have huge problems the length and breadth of these shores which need the best brains, focus, hard-work, determination and good faith – from funding gaps in the NHS to the lack of opportunities for young people to housing and infrastructure – and sadly our most of our leading politicians seem to be woefully lacking all these qualities.
The Conservatives are the equivalent of a circular firing squad and are so busy fighting over Brexit and jostling for who will succeed Theresa May, who will be out the door faster than you can say “strong and stable” once some deal is done on Brexit – although, her words “no deal is better than a bad deal” are proving to be rather prophetic.
A ‘no deal’ and crashing out of the EU on WTO terms is now a growing prospect. If this happens, it won’t be because the EU won’t accept a deal, it will be because hard-right Tory Brexiteers won’t. After Chequers, she sent Ministers out on the airwaves to say that this was the absolute, final Cabinet position, then the very next day she gave in to Jacob Rees-Mogg. With this kind of the steel, I bet the EU are sh****** themselves. She then conceded that she would have to probably give way to the EU on further areas, which is true but how do you think the hard-right in her party are going to take those concessions? They are emboldened, and they will not give way. They never have. Ever since the days of John Major, who was out over the weekend calling for a second referendum.
I am much more sympathetic to this notion now, but it won’t magic away all the problems – it would simply unblock the Brexit impasse we have in Parliament. What would the question or indeed questions be? How many options would have you have? Would you even include the option to overturn the decision and remain in the EU or would that be seen as undemocratic and unfair? And remainers like me might get a nasty shock – a second referendum may deliver an even bigger margin for leave because, if people hated Westminster in the run-up to the referendum, you can bet your bottom dollar they would want to give it an even bigger two-fingers after two years of arsing around.
But it may be the only option if politics can’t find a way though. To give you an idea of how messed up the Government’s Brexit plans are, yesterday it was announced that the Brexit Department will no longer be negotiating Brexit. You literally could not make this stuff up.
Speaking of which, a special mention must go to Vince Cable, leader of the Lib Dems who last week managed to miss a critical vote on Brexit because he was allegedly at a dinner discussing setting up a new party to stop Brexit. Former leader Tim Farron also missed this important vote because he was busy making a speech about homosexuality and the church. It’s great to see the political titan whose only contributions to the last general election was the phrase “smell my spaniel” and a massive row about gay sex is back out there on his “it’s a sin” tour.
But things took a more sinister twist when the deputy leader of the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson, was swindled out of her vote at a knife-edge moment because the Tories basically lied to her. She has just had a baby and is still on maternity leave. Julian Smith, the Tory Chief Whip, promised she would be “paired” with MP Brandon Lewis during a crucial Brexit vote. This is an arrangement where if an MP is sick or they can’t be in parliament for an important vote, their “pair” from the opposing party agrees not to vote so that they cancel each other out. It’s based on trust and honour ... Lewis then broke that promise and voted. This is outrageous. The Tories are saying this was an innocent mistake. Do me a favour. We weren’t born yesterday like Swinson’s baby! Lewis and Smith clearly lied, and should be sacked. It’s polite to give up your seat for a pregnant woman – they should be made to give up theirs. Permanently. What a low moment for politics.
And don’t look to Labour for any comfort on Brexit. Yesterday Corbyn showed his true Eurosceptic heart by making a speech where he tried to sell us the economic “benefits” of Brexit, which got praised to the rafters by the Leave campaign. He also has a massive bridge to sell you, with a unicorn waiting for each and every one of you on the other side. So, the chances of Labour blocking Brexit or backing a second referendum or a ‘people’s vote’ are pretty slim. Mind you. They have bigger fish to fry right now. Like picking the mother of all rows with the Jewish community over anti-semitism and trying to make communism fashionable again.
I really do despair. Never have we needed better politics. And cooler weather. Thank God, I’m heading up to Edinburgh for the festival.
• Ayesha Hazarika’s show ‘Girl On Girl’ is on at the Gilded Balloon 2-11 August @ayeshahazarika