Rethink Brexit: New Party Offers Home for the ‘Politically Homeless’
REUTERS/ Toby Melville/File PhotoEurope20:09 19.02.2018Get short URL
For political parties in Britain in 2018 it is impossible not to take a stance on Brexit, which remains the dominating issue of the time. But do the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats offer a real choice on Brexit or is it time for a new party to stand up for Remainers?
A new political party which is staunchly anti-Brexit launched itself on Monday, February 19, claiming to offer a home to those who have been left “politically homeless” by the Brexit referendum.
The founders of Renew, which says it already has 300 candidates ready to stand in a general election, say that with the Conservatives and Labour saying they will respect the outcome of the June 2016 referendum, many Remainers within the two main parties feel uncomfortable.
“Millions in this country feel politically homeless right now and abandoned. Brexiteers and Remainers, old and young, north and south. Many are disappointed with the false promise of Brexit,” said Sandra Khadouri, one of the co-leaders of Renew, at a press conference.
“Existing parties are failing to protect people’s interests due to personal ambition and tribal loyalties. Extremes are prevailing,” she said.
Co-Leader Walks Out of Launch
Monday’s launch got off to a fairly comical start when co-leader James Torrance walked out of the press conference, although it later emerged he had gone outside to do a live television broadcast.
Renew was founded by former financier Chris Coghlan before last year’s election but did not stand candidates under its banner.
Coghlan stood as an independent, coming fourth with 1,234 votes in Battersea in south London, an area with a high Remain vote.
The next General Election in the UK is not due until 2022 but many political analysts believe Prime Minister Theresa May will struggle to hold on to power that long because of critics within the Conservative party and tensions with the Democratic Unionist Party, who are propping the Tories up.
Why Renew and Not Lib Dems?
Renew thinks it can take advantage of the political vacuum but it is not clear why they would fare any better than the Liberal Democrats, especially in Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system.
At last year’s election the Lib Dems, who were standing on an avowedly pro-EU platform, saw their share of the vote fall by 0.5 percent — and that after a disastrous 2015 election when they were punished for going into coalition with David Cameron’s Tories — and leader Tim Farron later resigned.
Renew’s main policy is campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU but on its flashy new website it does mention several other “progressive” policies which it claims offer an alternative to the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems.
“We will end the housing crisis by creating two million homes by building on brownfield sites and using compulsory purchase of empty homes and land at market prices,” it says.
Offering Universal Basic Income
They also promise to raise the minimum wage to “the highest possible level before it starts to reduce jobs” and also promise to introduce a universal basic income.
“As automation starts to increase overall wealth and reduce lower skilled jobs, we will use that wealth to fund and gradually phase in a universal basic income so that every person has financial security to follow their dreams,” it says.
But if social media was anything to go by, Renew’s launch failed to make much of an impact with virtually nobody mentioning the party on Twitter or Facebook.
Earlier this month another campaign, Best for Britain, received a large donation from billionaire investor George Soros, who is a hate figure for many on the alt-right in Britain and Europe.
Lord Adonis, a Labour peer, has also backed another pro-Europe campaign, Our Future, Our Choice, which claims to represent the younger generation, many of whom voted Remain.