With less than 3 weeks before D-Day in the UK, the Conservatives are still adamant that only a massive majority is in the national interest. There are two reasons why this is incorrect. Firstly, the UK has had coalition governments when facing massive national crises. The UK had coalitions in both world wars, and also during almost the entire 1930s, there was a national government in place. Ramsay MacDonald, who was as much of an outsider for his time as Jeremy Corbyn is now, was PM during that period. If the Brexit negotiations are that big and that important, then British history would indicate that it shouldn’t matter who is in charge, and a rotating or shared leadership between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn would be perfectly legitimate. Having cross-party participation in dire times won’t weaken Britain. History shows this.
Another reason why UK voters shouldn’t go into blank cheque territory is that the post-Brexit arrangements – whatever they may be – are effectively a new constitutional order. The next three generations will likely be shaped by whatever is decided between Brussels and London. Therefore, a huge Conservative majority in 2017 would set the tone for the next several decades. On the other hand, a broad spectrum of opinion would make the new legal and political order of the UK sustainable and accepted.
And lastly, as a post-script, the idea that Corbyn is ‘radical’ (and therefore shouldn’t be allowed influence in negotiations) simply isn’t true. Corbyn’s proposals about nationalizing public utilities, or about state spending – whatever you may think about them – are shared by many countries in Europe and beyond. His proposals are not even as radical as what is accepted as de rigeur in Sweden or Canada. Granted, the UK is a different ‘kettle of fish’ to Scandinavia but is it really wise to completely freeze out social democrats? Perhaps, Corbyn should call the bluff of the Tories and propose a government of unity post-Brexit. History would support him.