Archive: Sarah Wollaston/Independent

Posted on 2nd April, 2020

In the last few days a group of MPs, including our Sarah Wollaston, have taken the courageous step of leaving their political parties and declaring themselves independent. Those who call for immediate by-elections in their seats should think carefully. All of these MPs say that the parties they have left have changed so much that they are no longer those for which they were elected.

  • The former Labour members cite the leadership's stance on Brexit and anti-Semitism in the party.
  • Those who were Conservatives talk of the party's move to the right, with policy being dictated by the ERG group of hard line Brexiteers and the DUP. As you reported last week, the local Conservative party has in effect been infiltrated by UKIP.

 

We should all welcome the fact that there is such a group of principled people in the House of Commons rather than try to replace them with party stooges at the first opportunity.

 

A theme that is common to all these MPs becoming independent is Brexit. The tensions set up by trying to respond to the narrow referendum result have split both main political parties, demonstrating that our present system of government does not seem able to handle this most important of issues.

 

However, the same tensions have brought sensible people from all parties together. At events up and down the country, platforms have been shared by MPs and MEPs from many parties: Conservative, Labour,  Liberal Democrat, Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru. They have found wide areas of agreement, leading those present to ask why the government cannot behave in the same way. Those MPs who have now gone independent must have been influenced by the grass roots response to such meetings. In a very real sense they are reflecting the will of the people.

 

Meanwhile the clock is running down on Brexit. There are three theoretical options at this late stage: to leave with No deal, to accept Theresa May's deal and to stay in the EU. There is widespread agreement that No deal would be an economic disaster that should not even be contemplated. The existing deal has been heavily criticised but it is the best that can be obtained. Is it, however, better than the present deal we have as a full member state within the EU?  The only way to resolve the present mess is to put this question to a People's Vote: between the deal on the table and staying in the EU.

 

And let us say thank you to the group of independent MPs, including Sarah Wollaston, for their integrity.

 

Roger Porkess

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