Calling for a second referendum is one of the IG's key pillarsLOUIS ASHWORTH

The 29th of March is rapidly approaching, and it seem increasingly likely that the UK will be dumped unceremoniously out of the European Union. With an attitude highly reminiscent of an arts student the night before a deadline, Theresa May appears to be procrastinating, praying for MPs to come to their senses and approve her deal. Hard Brexiteers in her party have had their heads in the sand as they pilot the country off a cliff-edge, refusing to listen to advice. The opposition parties don’t appear to be much better. Labour still seem confused and in disarray over the direction the party should take, while the Lib Dems are a total irrelevance, polling at single digits. For Remainers, the situation could not be more dire.

The solution? Putting themselves forward are the Independent Group, a coalition of high-profile defectors mostly from Labour. Opposing anti-semitism in Labour, promising a second referendum, and hoping to offer a “new kind of politics” to fight extremism, the group seems to be a centrist’s dream. Clearly, they’ve struck a nerve. They poll surprisingly well, recently reaching 18% and leapfrogging the Lib Dems. Are they the great hope that will save Britain from Brexit?

“The Independent Group can claim to represent everyone without representing anyone”

To put it simply: no. It’s clear that the “group” has a plethora of issues. They may criticise Labour for failing to tackle anti-semitism effectively, but their failure to discipline Angela Smith after her “funny tinge” comment is deeply hypocritical. There also seems to be dispute about the policies of previous governments While Anna Soubry described the Cameron and Osborne cuts as doing a “marvellous job”, Heidi Allen stated that her former party was blind to suffering, and the Labour MPs consistently voted against austerity measures. How does one square these contradictory viewpoints?

In fact, what exactly does the Independent Group even stand for? They claim to “pursue policies that are evidence-based, not led by ideology”. Do they seriously believe that other political organisations don’t use evidence? A set of beliefs and values will always be necessary to assess information and formulate a political platform, no matter how anti-ideological they claim to be, because the evidence itself does not formulate policies. What, then, are they basing their platform on? Eleven beliefs have been listed on their website, but all them are vague and clearly designed to appeal to as wide a range of people as possible. For example, they believe in creating “more prosperous communities” by creating “a society which fosters individual freedom and supports all families”. This is hardly controversial. Die-hard Labour and Tory voters would claim that they want the same thing. They also seek to reduce poverty and inequality through opportunity. Again, that is something most people would agree with. How do they plan to implement these beliefs? Where are these evidence-based policies? With a lack of any sort of detail in the form of a manifesto, the Independent Group can claim to represent everyone without representing anyone.

“The reasons to support these MPs dwindle by the minute”

The fact of the matter is that the Independent Group, while claiming to offer a new alternative, is just a vehicle of establishment politicians to re-appear on the political scene. Most of the defectors had played important roles in their former parties, some of them even participating in government or as shadow secretaries, and they’ve gradually been sidelined as their parties moved on without them. But it’s clear that they’ve learnt nothing from the Brexit referendum. The “evidence” that they cherish clearly shows a correlation between the most economically deprived areas in the country and support for Brexit. Those who voted to leave were those who were left behind in the post-Thatcher economic boom. For them, the benefits of continued EU membership were hard to see, and so they chose to rebel against the political elites. These are the same elites who now claim to represent the interests of the country. The Independent Group claims to want to fix Britain’s broken political system while ignoring the fact they were complicit in breaking it in the first place.

The members of the Independent Group chose to leave parties that supported them. Parties that funded their campaigns, provided them a nationwide platform and gave them access to grassroots supporters across the country. Instead, they chose to neuter themselves politically, cutting themselves off from the workings of the powers that be. And look where that led them. With Labour’s announcement of support for a second referendum, the reasons to support these MPs dwindle by the minute.


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If they’re so adamant that they represent the wishes of their constituents, then they should prove it by standing in a by-election. But of course they won’t. The Independent Group is hypocritical, it stands for nothing, and it represents a dying political class. Britain and the Remain movement is better off without them.

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