What a viable Remain Alliance could look like

Rob Bryher examines the consequences if Remainers or anti-Tories join forces to fight Brexit.

I have written previously with reservations about a Remain alliance: see 10 reasons Greens should avoid a Remain alliance. With the distinct prospect of a Brexit-oriented general election, what would be the specific aims?

Would it be a Remain alliance or an anti-Tory alliance?

Firstly, we need to ask whether the aims of a Remain alliance are clear and obvious. Superficially, the aim would be to return MPs who support some combination of revoking article 50 and a People’s Vote on the negotiated Brexit deal (or no deal) versus a Remain option.

Theoretically, there could be a number of Tory MPs who support this concept, but they have all been cast out and are now sitting as independents. So, in actual fact, this could more broadly be described as an anti-Tory alliance.

This is pretty much what was arranged in 2017 under the title of the progressive alliance. I think it would be more honest if we just called it an anti-Tory alliance and forgot the Brexit element — with the simple aim of returning non-Tory MPs.

The question is then how and whether this would work to stop the Tories from continuing in office.

Labour doesn’t seem interested in the idea — as it would involve them standing down for other parties, which is against their constitution. Therefore the alliance would be between Greens, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the SNP.

As an English person living in England, arrangements in Scotland and Wales are not something on which I will comment, except to say that it is probably much harder to negotiate three ways than two.

In England, the choice would then effectively be between Labour and either the Greens or Lib Dems. This means that floating anti-Tory voters would still receive at least two choices, which sort of defeats the point of an alliance from the word ‘go’ in most seats.

Which seats, then, should Lib Dems and Greens negotiate over, if they’re going to negotiate at all?

Greens will want to do well in key seats like Bristol West and Sheffield Central and they may think that Lib Dems not being on the ballot paper would help in such places.

Lib Dems will want more of a free run in Lib Dem/Tory marginals, particularly in the South West. This might lead to a few seats changing hands, but it is difficult to see this as anything other than a limited operation when the voting system produces such a lopsided electoral map between Greens and Lib Dems.

Lib Dems have more fingers in more electoral pies at present.

Is it good for Greens and the left generally? There are huge political questions about the Green Party allying solely with the Lib Dems and how that is perceived by the public. Very little time has passed since the Lib Dems enabled the Tories to implement brutal austerity measures and some of the Green activist base who focus primarily on council elections will naturally feel sceptical of the whole venture.

The gains are mostly, seemingly, for the Lib Dems in any negotiations.

Would such an arrangement directly lead to an ousting of the Tories from government? This seems unlikely in and of itself if there are only a few seats over which to negotiate. However, many Greens and others on the left may believe the price of limited short-term cooperation with a pro-austerity party is worth it if it succeeds in this goal.

It could result in a People’s Vote and an opportunity for proportional representation and constitutional reform, if the anti-Tory parties need to negotiate a shared power arrangement. This is catnip to anyone dreaming of a more progressive future, with a marginalised Conservative Party and an end to the Brexit mess.

Rob Bryher is coordinator of the Bristol Green Party but is writing in a personal capacity.

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3 Responses to “What a viable Remain Alliance could look like”

  1. What a viable Remain Alliance could look like - Two Fingers Media

    […] Read Full Article: What a viable Remain Alliance could look like […]

  2. Gary

    I think the point on this is being missed. Looking at just England & Wales for now, both countries voted for Brexit, recent polls show that the majority (regardless of how they voted in 2016) are in favour of Brexit going ahead. (54% once the don’t knows are removed, 50% if they are included) So how, democratically speaking, can you “stop Brexit”? With a referendum result, a parliamentary majority to honour the vote, a parliamentary majority to trigger Article 50 and the main parties (Lab & Con) both standing at the 2017 GE on platforms of honouring the result – how do you take all that back and retain the trust of the electorate. Even those who voted remain would be outraged. (see poll)

    The truth is that IF Brexit is stopped it will be done so in a way that is UNdemocratic.

    BUT, looking at Scotland. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Scotland has always been more pro EU and actively NEEDS immigration (which is not currently being met) Scotland, as you may have noticed had a referendum of it’s own in 2014. It was very close but by using dirty tactics and breaking ‘purdah’ the government managed to scrape over the line at the last minute (the secret polls, now released, show that just days before the vote over 50% were going to vote YES – then Cameron broke purdah and the rest is history) But I digress, Scotland was ‘given’ the right to hold it’s referendum under Article 30 of the Edinburgh Agreement. Part of the act stated that another could be held if ‘there is material change in Scotland’s circumstances’ (I’m paraphrasing, don’t have the Agreement in front of me) The example given at the time of signing by the SNP leadership was “Scotland being dragged out of the EU against her will” We, in Scotland, have now reached that point. So, in Scotland at least, there IS a way to stop Brexit – but democratically. Unfortunately, for those who voted against it, the same cannot be said for England & Wales.

    Northern Ireland, like Scotland, voted to remain. Unfortunately their unionist MPs didn’t get the memo. There is nothing that the DUP MPs have done that has the support of the people who voted them in, never mind the populace of NI! DUP won’t be happy until there’s a wall with barbed wire on top of it along the NI/ROI border. They see everyone as their enemy and are extremists (to put it politely) to be Impolite we should remember that former leader, Ian Paisley Sr, was once interviewed at the head of a march of a now proscribed Unionist Militia defending their right to arm themselves, as we now know he was doing much more than just supporting them with his words. As per the BBC’s Panorama, he participated in the terror organisation and funded bombing campaigns in Northern Ireland. the DUP is hand in glove with terror and if they’re not actually terrorists they are terrorist sympathisers. THIS is who May went into coalition with, THESE are the people who decide the fate of an entire country. Ten extremists hold sway over 60 million. One day the people of NI might decide NOT to vote on sectarian grounds and then their province can recover from the cancer of hate, frankly there is nothing that can be done for the people until, or unless they take matter into their own hands at the voting booth. Their leaders don’t care what they think as they have now discovered.

    But similarly back on mainland Britain, the tail IS wagging the dog. No matter how much we may hate it, this WAS decided democratically and MUST be carried out. I’m not young but I’ve never seen anything QUITE as undemocratic as what YOU (the author) are suggesting. The problem is that many of our MPs think it acceptable to ignore one referendum and two parliamentary votes and a manifesto promise. I didn’t vote for Brexit, it’s a STUPID idea, but I will put up with it because THAT is democracy…

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