The Reason for the Chaos in Westminster

The British Parliament faces an absolute blockade in the decisive phase of the Brexit (exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union).

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The British Parliament faces an absolute blockade in the decisive phase of the Brexit (exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union). The agreement reached by Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels to implement that rupture on March 29 does not have a majority in the House of Commons, as will be verified in the vote scheduled for January 15. But there are no majorities for potential alternatives: a Brexit without an agreement, a softer exit to imitate the model of relationship between Norway and the EU, or another referendum that allows the population to reverse the process.

Why this situation?

The reason must be sought in the breaking of the political borders that led to the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016. Three different tribes supported the departure of the EU, reaching 52% of the vote. The first is that of those nostalgic for a United Kingdom that is more uniform and able to breastfeed on its own in the world. In general, these are people of advanced age with a comfortable economic position. The second group that supported the Brexit is that of working class or unemployed people who consider immigration as a danger to their jobs, to public services and to the aid they receive. The third, less numerous, is that of the liberals who see the EU as an overly bureaucratic institution whose regulations constrain the economic expansion of the United Kingdom.

On the side of the EU supporters, there were also two differentiated blocs. The first is formed by young people who see Europe as an opportunity to go out to study and work, rather than a threat. The second is that of professionals or small entrepreneurs who work in urban areas and see the single market with good eyes because it reduces the cost of imported products and gives more access to foreign labor.

Of the three pro-Brexit tribes, two are habitual conservative voters (nostalgic and working) and the other (working class) is Labor or abstentionist. On the pro-European side, young people are more inclined towards Labor, while professionals and entrepreneurs often support conservatives.

This makes the two major parties very divided against the Brexit and its leaders (May in the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn in the Labor Party) maintain ambiguous and unpopular positions within their own formations.

The solution to this dilemma is complicated. It seems difficult to find a majority position in the current Chamber. A new general election, as Corbyn claims, would not clarify the scenario unless each party defines its position on Brexit in their respective programs. Another referendum, whatever its outcome, would recreate the fragmentation in Parliament on the best way to implement it. Delaying the Brexit date may be the only short-term option that gains majority support in Parliament.