Easter has arrived bringing with it the miracle of a few days’ respite from the usual Brexit furore, allowing the British public a chance to consider and reflect on other important world affairs such as the G7 summit and events in Syria.
More practically, this let-up in the media has allowed the battle lines to be drawn before negotiations begin about precisely what Britain we will be living in two years from now. From a comms perspective, this presents a chance for the so-called Bremoaners to unify their message on how Britain can maintain a close relationship with European neighbours after Brexit and the desired interplay between access to the single market and the free moment of EU nationals. Two years may seem like a long time when you’re waiting for the next major football tournament, but worries are already starting to grow that the strict negotiating timeline is not long enough to decide the many key questions up for debate. Further, if it’s true that serious deals won’t be reached until after the German elections in September, this makes it all the more important for everyone involved to use this time to get ducks in a row.
To this end – and you’d be forgiven for not noticing – the Liberal Democrats have continued a significant turnaround in fortune in recent weeks, steadily increasing their profile in the media as a credible opposition voice on Brexit (even the Spectator thinks so). Media commentators have explained this in part by how quick the Lib Dems are to put forward spokespeople to respond to events as they happen. By contrast, Labour has been criticised behind the scenes in recent weeks for how slow it has been to respond to requests for media, losing them the opportunity to make the most of a fast-paced media cycle.
With the local elections coming up on 4 May, a good performance for the Lib Dems could give them the momentum they need to win more of a seat at the negotiating table. As we come out of the long weekend, the conversations about quite how badly Labour would need to perform in these to force serious questions about its leader Jeremy Corbyn will heat up all over again. Particularly in these strained political times, the hum drum result of a tight council race here or there (to say nothing of the mayoral battles) could decide how loud the official Opposition gets to be on Brexit – that is, if it’s not drowned out by its own internal discord.
As it’s Easter, best to end on a positive note. So, if you’re fed up of the endless debate and seemingly unlimited number of armchair pundits that keep popping up on your screen, maybe it’s worth remembering that we’re privileged to live in a country with the freedom to be noisy. Or, in the sage words of Ian Hislop last week, “democracy works by people continuing to argue about the issues…continuing the argument is what is in everyone’s best interests.”