What could a caretaker government look like?

27 Sep 2019


Now that Parliament has returned, Brexit again dominates the political stage, continuing a show-run that has outstretched any other issues in living memory. Whether a Brexiter or a Remainer, everyone can agree that the situation has dragged on long enough. 


Of all the talk and bluster from parliament’s first day back in session, one suggestion however, stands out, a solution that could please the majority of people. A caretaker government. The suggestion of an interim government to solve Britain’s current predicament was brought up by SNP leader Ian Blackford, who proposed it as the best way forward to solve the issue of Brexit and holding a general election. He hinted that such a government could be led by Jeremy Corbyn, but said that anyone would do, as long as it solved the problems at hand. 


For a caretaker government to be put into place, a no-confidence vote would be necessary. While Theresa May’s government survived a no confidence vote by a majority of 19 votes back in January 2019 , considering the recent expulsions from the Conservative Party, Johnson’s government could now be more vulnerable to such a vote, as his operating majority has dwindled to just one. Nonetheless Johnson very much craves the challenge of a general election, which would follow a successful no confidence vote, in the hope that a Brexit majority could be established. The proposition of a caretaker government however, stumps Johnson’s idea of a Brexit majority, as it would be put into place before a general election could be held. It would then be up to the opposition to decide the nature of that interim government. 


This brings up an interesting hypothetical question: What would a caretaker government look like and who could lead it? 


First and foremost, the opportunity to form a government would be taken up by Corbyn and the Labour Party. Though some might be happy with this, many would not. Corbyn is the political equivalent of Marmite: either loved or hated. Not to mention the current division and warfare taking place within the fractured Labour Party itself, it would be especially difficult with Corbyn’s fence-sitting on Brexit and the uncertainty of the direction taken by him and his party. 


Some have also suggested a caretaker government led by the Father or Mother of the House, the longest serving member of the commons, which would either be former Conservative Kenneth Clarke or former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman. A further possibility is an interim government led by the current Speaker of the House, John Bercow, who is respected by some, yet controversial to others. It is definitely an option, although he has stated that he’d be stepping down soon after Brexit takes place. 


In terms of cabinet members, there are many options and even opportunities for some real changes to the current system. I would propose a change to the nature of the Secretary of State for each of the nations represented in parliament. Instead of an MP, who is often unrepresentative of their nation, this position could be filled by representatives of each devolved parliament or by an MP representative nominated by the devolved parliament. This would be especially appropriate for Scotland, which could send down a representative of the SNP, rather than being represented by The Scottish Conservatives who do not have a majority in Scotland. 


Naturally, there are a lot more options and combinations to choose from beyond this. Some sensible, some strange and some downright crazy. Everyone will surely have their own preference and I look forward to seeing many of them. The next few weeks look like they’ll be filled with an incredibly interesting game of Fantasy Frontbench, which might hopefully lift us up from the doom and gloom of Brexit events. 

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