A UK Government of national unity must be established as soon as possible – its leader doesn’t really matter – to achieve just two things, delay Brexit and call a general election, writes Kenny MacAskill.
“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God go.” So said Cromwell to Parliament after a further defeat by the Royalists and his words were repeated by Leo Amery in 1940 as he castigated the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain following the Narvik debacle.
Now they echo loud and clear for Boris Johnson. Weeks into office, he’s lost votes, his majority and what little faith the majority of the country had in him. Allegations of personal impropriety mount and his response is either equivocation or shameless denial, usually in the face of direct evidence. He’s unfit for office in every possible requirement from ability to probity.
There has to be a vote of no confidence in his Government. He cannot be allowed to continue in office. The sooner he’s removed the better. Keeping in him office to be humiliated by requiring him to sign the letter to the EU seeking a further extension of the Article 50 deadline is too high a risk.
Whilst he may be somewhat chastened by his Supreme Court whitewash and perhaps even have been castigated by the Queen, he cannot be trusted. The weasel words and failure by him and his cronies to confirm that they’ll do as required is an abuse of democracy. But they don’t care and these are dangerous times.
Dead in the water
So, he has to be turfed out and it’s tragic that yet another week goes by with all the risk and uncertainty it causes for business and citizen alike. Hopefully, next week will see the establishment of a Government of national unity or call it what you like. In reality, it’s just a required measure for the democratic process to be delivered by firstly ensuring that Parliament’s will in rejecting a ‘no-deal Brexit’ is delivered and then providing the people with their say in an election.
For those reasons, the delay is worrying and the opposition’s machinations are unedifying. Unlike in 1940, this isn’t to be the establishment of a coalition Government when Churchill took over and Attlee came in as his deputy. Suggestions of running an administration through until an election next year are hare-brained. This current Government’s dead in the water but so to would be any national unity administration. There’s neither the mood in the country nor support in Parliament for such an entity.
Governments require to have a core raison d’etre and that’s usually provided by the manifesto upon which they were elected. Coalitions can be formed, as was done by Cameron with Clegg, but again there’s an agreed basis and agenda. That’s needed to be able to allow for the formulation of policy by officials and cohesive action to be taken whether in a crisis or just in general.
But there’s nothing that unites Labour and Liberal Democrats, SNP and dissident Tories other than removing Johnson and halting a no-deal Brexit. Talk of continuing in office beyond those two clear principles is spurious. What would the administration’s policy be on welfare benefits? Universal Credit is rightly decried by SNP and Labour, yet both it and austerity were embraced by rebel Tories and Jo Swinson alike.
Corbyn, Beckett or Uncle Tom Cobley
Likewise, rolling back years of enforced austerity is being promised with gay abandon by Johnson and his crew. That’s despite neither an apology for the misery created nor, more worryingly, any explanation as to how it’s all going to be paid for as they sprinkle policy pledges like confetti. But the gulf between John McDonnell and Philip Hammond is a chasm and Swinson and rebel Tories reject the former.
Some might wish to continue in their sinecures on the green benches and others may wish to await Alex Salmond’s trial. But it’s simply not possible and I’d be wary of what you wish for.
I’m no fan of Jeremy Corbyn but having him made PM to sign a letter and call an election doesn’t faze me. Swinson’s behaviour simply confirms her antics are student politics rather than for the good of the entire country, appearing petulant and indecisive. But if it has to be someone else to bring rebel Tories on board then it would be to Corbyn’s credit to allow it to be Margaret Beckett, Ken Clarke or Uncle Tom Cobley.
Put them in office, send the letter and call an election. Nothing else’s needed, other than a temporary fix to ensure there are individuals in situ to deal with any emergencies that may arise. It happens at every election and it’s called purdah. Things just go on hold until after the vote. But in the name of God, get on with it.