The challenge of stopping Brexit Groundhog Day

Cllr Daniel Yates, leader of the Labour Group on Brighton & Hove City Council
Cllr Daniel Yates, leader of the Labour Group on Brighton & Hove City Council

I made a number of announcements last week - it’s part of the job sometimes. Often these are not particularly party political or even decisions that have been made by councillors.

Nevertheless I frequently have to announce things that may be good news or bad news for some or all people across the city.

Surprisingly last week I got a number of thank-you emails for a relatively small announcement that I made.

Even more surprisingly some of them were from people who are usually more critical of my, or the council’s, actions. It was a real positive for me to know that occasionally I’m able to get things right for them too. However on a national scale politicians are really getting very little public support or praise for their actions over Brexit. To me it appears that they are trapped in some sort of Groundhog Day where they can neither make progress on delivering the result of the EU referendum nor can they find a route to explain why not.

To many (including all those who keep asking me) it appears that politics isn’t able to find a solution at all.

This challenge to the ability of representative politics to “do what people need done” brings into focus the limits of what politics can deliver without the support of the people. We don’t elect politicians to impose their views on us, or even to tell us what to do. We elect them to help solve the problems we face. Sometimes though no matter who we elect and whichever colour of rosette they wear they will not be able to solve the problems alone. Sometimes (nearly always in fact) politicians aren’t able to work out every solution and cannot make things better or even please anybody. The challenge that politicians face in such circumstances is to know how to react. How long do you struggle with an issue before admitting that it cannot be solved satisfactorily? How many times do you take a proposed solution forward only to have it shown not to work? This is the position of our national politicians over Brexit at the moment. I do not envy them that challenge and I, like many, look forward to hearing a solution and moving on to the many other issues that people want something done about.

Cllr Dan Yates is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council