Brexit

Brexit is just the beginning

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After three bitter years of division and domestic political strife caused by Brexit, we must now embark on a journey of reform and instigate an avalanche of constitutional change. 

Fuelled by national self-pride and determination, we must reflect the expressed desire of the British people for self-governance, sovereignty and fairer political representation. Whether you were a leaver or a remainer, the arguments about in or out must fade to give way to a fresh national conversation about how we govern ourselves.

The first key institution which must fall under the reform is the House of Lords. Left virtually untouched since the Blair reforms of 1999, the upper House of our parliament has become grossly out of step with public opinion and a political retirement home for those wishing to side-step the electorate while remaining in government. 

It is archaic in its structure, un-representative of our communities, and an alarming contradiction in our desire to take back control of our affairs. If we truly wanted to make our laws and elect our politicians, then the House of Lords as it currently exists is untenable.

To replace it, an elected House of Peers should be comprised of individuals from across our country. From every constituency, candidates should be nominated by their electorate based on contribution to the local area and expertise in various areas of policy. 

I’m not setting out the exact electoral mechanisms of this process here, but rather drawing a blueprint for how the second chamber should be comprised. These people would stand independently with no party-political attachments whatever, ensuring that the sole purpose of the House is to check and balance the government on behalf of our communities, not on behalf of our political parties.

The result would be a true check on the establishment – an injection of ordinary British communities right into the heart of Westminster, thereby bursting its bubble of privilege and exclusivity. 

That was the project of Brexit: waking up the establishment to what real people wanted to see politics deliver. We must now make that happen in our political sphere.

Secondly, I propose an even more fundamental reshaping of the British constitution. One that would not only make the UK a more democratic and representative country but, in my view, save our great union of nations from dissolution. 

The jingoism and threats of Scottish separation being pursued by Nicola Sturgeon are having tangible effects on voters if the polls are to be believed. The breakup of the UK is not impossible if a referendum were to happen.

While such a referendum may not happen in the near future, the clear discontent among Scots for the Union in which they live is nevertheless an upset. We must resolve this. 

By changing our constitution entirely, I wish to see the biggest democratic reform since the birth of universal suffrage: the beginnings of a federal Britain.

This idea has already been tossed around by Labour leadership front-runner Keir Starmer, as he called for greater devolution ‘based on the principle of federalism’. I agree with his proposal, as the only way to create a truly democratic union of nations is to give the greatest degree of power possible, back to the people. 

This was the central aim of Brexit, and it must now be the central aim of our domestic political agenda. It starts with fiscal autonomy for our regions and cities.

Currently, our regional political structure is a mishmash of city mayors, metro-mayors, councils and devolved authorities. 

This complex pick n’ mix of institutions and elections should be standardised nation-wide so that regions such as Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, etc. have metro-mayors and regional councils. They would have wide-ranging budget controls and independent tax revenues – rather than just funding from central government. 

With guaranteed funding and fiscal autonomy over infrastructure, welfare, education and housing, communities would be free to make independent choices over their future. 

Never again will regions be faced with the horrors of austerity from Westminster- a politically motivated economic project which has seen northern regions such as Merseyside suffer massive budget cuts year-on-year. 

In the latest round of cuts, Liverpool is set to lose £26m, nearly 16% down from its already bludgeoned budget, while Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead is set to see a 20% rise in funding. 

Under fiscal autonomy, regions and communities will have the chance to put their money to use in the way that they see fit. Crucially, power will be shared equally in every corner of our nation. 

Now, that is taking back control.

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