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The Independent Group: Who are they?

Written by Joe Bunkle

 

The Independent Group: Who are they? And what might they mean for Brexit and British Politics?

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Have you been at odds with your mates about Brexit? Well our two main parties in Parliament certainly have. The PM (Theresa May a.k.a. Maybot) and the Opposition Leader (Jeremy Corbyn a.k.a. Jezza) have seen a few of their MPs resign their party memberships following disagreements over Brexit and equality issues in British politics. They have come together to form the Independent Group of Members of Parliament (catchy right?) Here I’m going to talk a little about who and what the Independent Group are, their goals, and what effect they might have on Brexit and the current British political scene.

With Article 50, the exiting clause of the Lisbon Treaty that lays out the rules for EU membership, being triggered in just over a month’s time (29/03/19), one has to wonder what this means for Brexit’s future? Are we set to get out? Or will these plucky few snatch a Remainer reprieve out of Leave?

From 7 members to now 11, Labour MPs such as Chuka Umunna and Tories like Cambridgeshire’s own Heidi Allen have rallied to challenge the incoming departure from the European Union. They’ve dumped their membership of their respective parties to stand as independent MPs, now calling for a People’s Vote (in simple terms: a referendum on the PM’s final Brexit deal), and even a second EU membership referendum.

Originally, our Gang of Seven, as they had been dubbed by a few British news outlets, did not only walk out from Labour due to Corbyn’s EU stance (his history of being a Eurosceptic, as well as committing here and now to Brexit). Ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger accused the party of being “institutionally anti-Semitic” and being too hard-left on the political scale. Meanwhile Corbyn and his supporters warned that leaving the party now meant they had handed voting power over to the Conservatives.

Speaking of Conservatives, deserting MPs naturally throw a spanner into May’s already strained works. Now, there’s not only a problem in Jeremy’s party with accusations of a rife of anti-Semitic bullying, the PM is now in the spot light for accusation that her party is being controlled by hardline Brexiteers. Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and our aforementioned Heidi Allen have officially jumped ship and joined their ex-Labour counterparts in the new group. Aside from their Brexit views, they’re also calling for a fresh, politically-central group to deliver more compassionate policies to fix the growing hardships that Britain’s most vulnerable such as the homeless. Homelessness has seen a rise in the UK by 4% according to a report by the charity Shelter and critics have placed a lot of the blame at the government’s failure to provide social housing and continuing systematic welfare cuts.

So, what does this mean for you guys? Well if you’re a Remainer then there’s good news and bad news. We’ll start with the good news (because who doesn’t?) and say that this shows more promise for a People’s Vote. Now, not only do MPs support one, but they’ve willingly left their own parties to show their disdain for how Brexit is currently being handled. However, this small camp of only 11 members opens the question: can they really stop a hard Brexit (or stop it all together)? They no longer have insider access to influence their former fellow MPs; they don’t concur on some policy issues outside of Brexit and equality; and they now lose the resources afforded them whilst members of a large party, none of which plays in their favour.

The prospect of by-elections could also be on the table. But what is a by-election? What it means in straight terms is that when you vote for a candidate at election, that candidate is usually backed by a party (Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, etc.) You might not necessarily like the candidate, but you do like their party, so you vote for them anyway. If they then leave that party, you may then feel a bit let down, and if enough people are in the same boat as you, then you can demand another election is held in your constituency, in order to make their sitting in Parliament democratic; it gives them a mandate. Jeremy Corbyn is one such person demanding that democracy be satisfied and that members of the Independent Group call by-elections. The Independent Group have announced that in spite of these calls for by-elections, they have no plans to do so.

Is this the beginning of the end for Brexit? Will the Independent Group form their own party and defy Maybot and Jezza? Or will the Group try and fail to bring about the change they wish? At this point, only time will tell, but at the rate MPs are becoming independent, that could even be tomorrow!

{Photo from – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47305860

Categories: News, Politics

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