(TAP – Crisis is Greek for turning point.)
The first that I wanted to address here is that “Brexit has caused a national crisis”.
No it hasn’t. Because there has been no Brexit. Maybe there would be something akin to a crisis if Brexit actually occurred (I very much doubt it), but we are not there yet. Of course, this doesn’t stop the likes of Sky News trying to create a sense of panic by heading up every other story under the deliberately unnerving banner of ‘BREXIT CRISIS’ and ‘BREXIT COUNTDOWN’ shouting from our screens. The BBC is at it, too, with a recent Panorama special on ‘Britain’s Brexit Crisis’. It is a contrived manufacture to boost viewing figures and to create fear of Brexit.
The UK is indeed in crisis – its most serious since the Second World War – but it is a democratic one. This emergency is entirely due to over half of Parliament refusing to accept a series of democratic results and consequently going back on its promises to the British people. Remainer Fundamentalist MPs are attempting (either knowingly or inadvertently) to overthrow democracy – in plain sight and with full backing of the Establishment. It is true to say, as many (but still too few) do, that this is a parliamentary coup d’état worthy of a tin-pot dictatorship.
Like nomenklatura in an authoritarian state, Remainer Fundamentalist MPs are either rewriting recent history or, at best, indulging in convenient, selective amnesia. In 2015 Parliament passed the Referendum Bill by a majority ratio of 10:1. In 2016 the referendum result was for Leave, by 52% to 48%. In 2017, Parliament passed Article 50, initiating the formal process for leaving the European Union by 29th March 2019, by a majority ratio of 4.5:1. In the General Election of 2017, over 80% of votes went to parties explicitly and unequivocally promising to honour the Referendum result and to leave the European Union.
So whether through the mechanism of direct democracy or representative democracy, there has been a clear expression of the electorate’s wishes. But Parliament continues to throw up obstacles to block the democratic process in the hope that time will erode or even supplant the position of Brexiteers (and, chillingly, kill off the oldest of them). The logic of such a spoiling approach is one that can allow Parliament to permanently circumvent the democratic process.
In true Orwellian Newspeak style, the Remainer Fundamentalists in the Commons are brazenly saying that they are actually acting in the name of democracy and parliamentary sovereignty. All animals are equal but some (themselves and the Establishment) are more equal than others (voters).
In the UK’s current confusion, where even our leading politicians and legal experts cannot agree on what is legal and what is constitutional (there has been considerable pushing of the boundaries), the figure of A.V. Dicey is much overlooked. Dicey (1835-1922), a jurist and constitutional theorist, has much to say here. It is a common mistake made even by many commentators to believe that the UK does not have a written constitution. It does – it is just not codified in one stand-alone document.
One of its written sources is Dicey’s Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution from 1885. Dicey directly, and presciently, addressed the clash we are witnessing today between Parliament and the people. He asked how does one reconcile the legal sovereignty of Parliament with the fundamental democratic principle of a sovereign people? He was troubled that the sovereign people might be made submissive to a sovereign Parliament enforcing arbitrary powers. This is exactly what is happening today.
Dicey’s later solution to this was the constitutional device of the referendum: “a democratic check on democratic evils”. Our majority pro-Remain legislature (Parliament) has shrugged the 2016 Referendum off with contemptuous arrogance. The result is the appalling situation in the UK today, whereby the political sovereignty of the electorate is being usurped.
It is laughable how these Remainer MPs like to portray themselves as modern and forward-thinking, yet the likes of the Speaker of the Commons, Remainer-in-Chief John Bercow, resorts to parliamentary procedure from 1604 in their attempts to cripple Brexit. Many of them try and sound clever and convincing by regurgitating Burkean Bristolian bumpf. They consider this to be their divine inspiration to justify MPs morphing from representatives of democracy into 650 mini-dictators. Edmund Burke MP famously addressed his Bristol constituents in these terms:
“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.
It is remarkable how this has taken on the status of some divine parliamentary law. His opinion tends to support epistocracy – in effect, the rule of our politically enlightened betters over the ignorant hoi-polloi – and not democracy. Oh, and Burke said that in 1774. That’s two-and-half centuries ago. Back then less than 3% of the population of England and Wales had the vote (and less again in Scotland). And Remainers say Brexiteers are stuck in the past!
But, when you think about it, this perfectly encapsulates the Remainer Establishment’s views on democracy as something to be kept out of the hands of the rabble. Their rallying cry should be ‘Onwards to the 18th century!’. In fact, these days MPs are unlikely to be either delegates or representatives of the people; even staid textbooks on politics identify them first and foremost as representatives of their party rather than either delegates or representatives of their constituents. (There are many honourable exceptions, of course.)
Our crisis is a democratic one. Remainer Fundamentalist MPs are disgracefully trying to obfuscate issues of sovereignty and authority, and to confuse voters by a cynical recourse to arcane parliamentary procedures, as if the true essence of democracy rests here and not with the demos, the people itself.
There are four further myths I shall address in my next piece for BrexitCentral, to be pub