Divisive is an apt word for the process of removing Britain from the European Union. From even before the announcement of the referendum to this exact moment, Brexit has caused fractures in every political party and within the electorate. This is very concerning for a lot of people; fractures within the parties is seen as a signifier of instability. This perception of party dealignment within parliament is a result of the tribalism that is advocated for within British politics. If one is not blindly loyal to their party and unjustifiably hostile to any other party, they are not a good politician and in some extremes are dubbed enemies of the people.
In actuality, this slow disintegration of party loyalty has allowed for the beginning of real pluralist politics. MP’s from all parties are coming together in cross-party groups to fight against the bumbling mess that is Brexit. Liberal Democrats, Labourites and Conservatives are sharing platforms to call for a second referendum on the terms of Brexit when they are decided. Even before this though, Brexiteer Michael Gove acknowledged the importance of abandoning partisanship in favour of a collaborative approach: “It matters that people from every part of the UK, every community and different political traditions are involved in shaping our future. And we should draw on wisdom from great minds outside of politics.”
This sentiment has been echoed from all corners of the political spectrum in Britain and the fact that it is being ignored demonstrates the governments fear of how legitimate an alternative cross-party leadership is. Not only is cross party cooperation essential because Brexit negotiations are an enormous task that would benefit from more brainpower, but also because when party allegiance is set aside, the needs of the country and its people are put before politics, something which is essential when taking on such astronomical constitutional change.
Brexit planning is not the only area where cross party cooperation is seen in modern day.
The House of Lords has in its format the acknowledgement that party politics can be a hindrance to parliamentary proceedings with the existence and recently increase of crossbenchers. The Lords are involved in not only this lack of party politics but also in collaborations with their colleagues in the House of Commons through All Political Party Groups (APPG). Whilst unofficial and not granted any government funded, APPG’s are a prime example of the fact that is very possible to have some views more similar to MPs from rival parties than their own party.
Politics works best when policy areas are considered without the pressure of acting in a way that aligns with the ideological subscription of a certain party. When loyalty for a party is put first, policy decisions are made on the basis of political point scoring rather than what will genuinely be best for the country and its people. Hopefully, the divisive nature of Brexit signals the beginning of a shift toward a politics about people and policy rather than party allegiance.