By Bethany Dawson
The chaos that is current British politics reached its crisis point in the third week of January as Theresa May’s Brexit deal was voted down by a majority of roughly two thirds. This elevated Mrs May to the proud pedestal of leading the Government into their biggest defeat. Jeremy Corbyn’s vote of no confidence represented a turning point which would have had the potential to alter the path of British politics, yet despite a sharp defeat in Parliament it was decided that May should stay, for now. Writing at the end of this frankly exhausting week, one must ponder what is ahead of us. Is Britain about to face the third general election in four years? And in regard to the hot topic of Brexit: are we going to be divorcing the EU amicably or with an agreement so messy that it deserves its own episode of Jeremy Kyle? The short answer is that no one seems to know, not even our Prime Minister.
Mrs May is faced with the option of deal or no deal, and in making her choice she is gambling with the lives and wellbeing of each person within the UK. People with regular prescriptions are having to stockpile medication in fear of a no-deal Brexit leading to restrictions of access to common drugs. This is done against official regulations and is often carried out through potentially dangerous channels, but the alternatives are to either attempt to control one’s own medication supply or risk running into unmanaged ill-health come March 29th. A no-deal Brexit restricts access to medication, threatens to raise the price of goods due to increased trade tariffs, would stunt economic growth and break any trust that the public continues to have in its government. And despite all this, our government is flirting with a no-deal Brexit by rejecting our only alternative whilst simultaneously maintaining the power of the person that proposed it.
We live in a fascinatingly terrifying time that requires a true appreciation of the current affairs and the diversity of issues the government faces. It should be recognised that Brexit is more than debates in Parliament, heated Question Times, and something we are overall getting bored of. As mentioned before, Brexit affects all of us by seeping into the corners of our lives and it is this particular issue that should not be forgotten. The seemingly endless debates and monotonous discussions of deal-or-no-deal are an important part of current politics, but it is vital that these headlining conversations do not overshadow continuing problems affecting the most vulnerable people in society.
After a scathing report by the UN about dangerous levels of poverty within Britain, a debate was held in Parliament on the 8th of January to discuss the United Nations Report on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in the UK and Northern Ireland. Despite this being an unquestionably vital issue as the discussion was centered around homelessness as well as chronic hunger that predominantly affects children, only fourteen MPs attended. Admittedly, we can all agree that to be a politician in this day of age is to be swept up in chaos and confusion, with little time to adjust one’s schedule for a debate. However, a debate on the lives of the 14 million people living in poverty should not be seen as something to squeeze into a diary, but be at the forefront of political discussions. Homeless people are dying outside the doors to Parliament, children are going hungry whilst their free school lunches are cut, and pensioners are having their Universal Credit slashed. All whilst our eyes and ears are glued to one facet of British Politics.
We must not forget the complexities and intersectionalities of British Society. Brexit, as we have been told time and time again, will affect all of us and it is not something we can or should ignore. But it’s crucial that alongside the frenzy we continue to be mindful of other issues such as the aforementioned problems of public spending cuts, support within the education system, and poverty. Continue to pay attention to the happenings within Parliament, keep up to date with current affairs but don’t let Brexit overshadow other important issues affecting all individuals. The personal is forever political, but one should not forget that the political is also forever personal.