A 1918 Style Coupon Election Can Save Brexit

On 14 December 1918, Britain held it’s first election since the end of the largest war in the history of humanity (up until that point). The election saw a Liberal pro-war Prime Minister attain a major personal victory even though most of the MPs backing his government were from the Conservative Party. As such, for the first time since the death of the 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, the Conservatives were a supremely decisive force in a vote that became known as the Coupon Election.

As a majority of Conservatives formed the wartime coalition government under the leadership of David Lloyd George and his Liberal allies, it was decided by leading politicians from both Coalition parties including the pro-war Liberal Winston Churchill (as he was at the time) to continue the Coalition in peacetime. As such, special letters of endorsement were co-signed by Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law and delivered to candidates from both Lloyd George’s Liberals and the Conservatives who had an official endorsement from the wartime Coalition government. These letters of endorsement were given the name “coupons” by independent Liberal leader Herbert Henry Asquith who found David Lloyd George’s electoral strategy to be damaging to his vision of supposedly authentic liberalism.

In the end, the Coalition won a landslide majority whilst Asquith’s Liberals came behind Sinn Féin and a fledgling Labour Party.

Just as the election of 1918 was more about the end of the Great War than about traditional party politics, in today’s Britain, Brexit is a far bigger issue than traditional party politics. As such, one must consider the following:

–At least three recent opinion polls show that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is the most popular party in the UK 

–The Brexit Party could probably still not form a majority government even if it won the next general election 

–A coaliation of pro-Brexit MPs from the Brexit Party, Conservatives and some Labour Brexiteers could form a super-majority government aimed at delivering Brexit and managing its aftermath 

When taken as a whole, assuming that the next Prime Minister (likely Boris Johnson) understands this and seeks to gain future electoral advantage from the popularity of Brexit, it would behove Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson to speak about the possibility of offering candidates a Brexit Coupon in the way that in 1918 the wartime Coalition endorsed specific candidates from both Lloyd George’s Liberals and Bonar Law’s Conservatives. To make such a Brexit Coupon all the more inclusive, Labour and independent candidates should also be given the Brexit Coupon if they support a WTO style Brexit.

Thus, one could have a proper and constitutional general election that would break the present deadlock in the House of Commons without having to resort to a second referendum that would be a supreme insult to those still waiting for the results of the first to be properly implemented.

The result of such a Brexit Coupon Election would likely be a landslide in favour of those endorsed as official Brexitters. There is no reason to delay talks to prepare the country for such an election.

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