It’s been another week of shame for Westminster. Brexit has been delayed again- and now looks unlikely to happen in 2019 that’s if it happens at all. The betrayal of voters who believed the promises that their democratic decision taken in 2016 would be honoured has been quite stunning.
A reminder: our politicians pledged they’d respect the 2016 referendum result when they wanted our support in the 2017 general election. But alas, the politicians- or at least a large number of them- were telling fibs.
It’s clear now that their objective was to block Brexit by kicking the can further down the road whenever there was a real chance of implementing the public vote- and as the clock ticked away, start to campaign either for Brexit to be cancelled altogether (the Lib Dem line), or for a second referendum, in which the two choices would be between a deal (which they would say was ‘rotten’) and Remain. In other words reverse the result of the first referendum by means of a rigged second one, which would split the pro-Leave vote.
Labour’s Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer should really be called ‘The Anti-Brexit Secretary’ for the part he’s played in this shoddy affair. Leading Labour figures have openly admitted that if the party was in power they’d campaign against any deal they’d got from Brussels. How on earth could they get a decent deal with that attitude? Of course, that’s the whole point. Make us an offer which we simply have to refuse. Then we’ll stay in the neoliberal EU forever.
The non-delivery of Brexit has shown us the phoney commitment to ‘democracy’ our self-described ‘democrats’ have. Caroline Lucas of the Greens has been one of the worst offenders. At a post-referendum conference in 2016 Lucas quite rightly said:‘ To seek to over-rule the outcome of the referendum is bad politics and worse democracy’. Yet shortly afterwards she began campaigning to overrule the outcome of the referendum by supporting another one. She has also said that even if Leave won again, she ‘probably wouldn’t’ back a Brexit deal in the House of Commons to leave. In other words, democracy only works for Caroline if we vote the way she wants us to.
Remainers like Lucas know that their best chance of blocking Brexit is with the current Parliament. That’s why they want to keep it sitting for as long as possible reject all the calls for a general election, using a different excuse, or a combination of excuses each time. It’s not about ‘taking No Deal off the table’, that‘s a red-herring: it’s about continuing to occupy the crease to thwart Britain’s exit from the EU. These MPs are like people who step in your way when you want to leave a room and don’t allow you to pass. They’re hoping that their continued obstruction will just wear us down and that we’ll stay in the said room for the rest of our lives.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered an election on 12th December as a way out of the impasse. What happened next was highly revealing. Pro-Corbyn Labour supporters on Twitter - quite rightly said ‘Bring it On!’. We’re told daily how many people are suffering - or even dying because of Tory cuts and austerity, so it’s logical for any genuine leftist to welcome a chance to end Tory rule as soon as possible. But Opposition MPs were not so keen on toppling the Tories. Labour MPs made clear their opposition to an election to leader Jeremy Corbyn ( who we were told had been keen) and Corbyn, as ever, duly did what the PLP wanted. ‘Excellent news’ tweeted the pro-Remain Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw. ’Parliament, not Johnson will decide the date of any election & preferably after a #FinalSay #peoples vote. Got that? Bradshaw wants to see Brexit blocked ( via a referendum in which the choices would be Johnson’s deal and Remain) and then a General Election, after the result of the 2016 referendum has been overturned. Just how democratic is that?
The SNP’s Ian Blackford used the time of the year as an excuse not to support a December poll. He said ‘people are not going to thank you for coming out and vote in a general election when we’re in the middle of winter’.
In fact, 12th December is not ‘the middle of winter’, technically it’s still autumn. We go to football in December, to the horse-racing, to the rugby, to the pictures, to the shops, to the gym, to the swimming pool, to the doctor’s surgery, to the health centre, to our hospital appointments and we go to work- but it seems it’s ’barking mad’ to ask us to go out to put an ’X’ by someone’s name on a piece of paper.
Labour figures have been equally dismissive of a December poll. It’s a ‘trap’ to suit Johnson and a December election automatically favours the Tories, we‘re told. The form book suggests this is baloney. The first-ever Labour government was formed following a December election in 1923. Labour down the years has done better than the Tories when elections have been held away from the usual April-June period. The last winter election held in Britain, in February 1974, was won by Labour, following a very high turnout of almost 79%. The victor, Harold Wilson, also won two elections in October. The ‘it’s the wrong time of year for an election’ claim is just another Remainer-delaying tactic. If- as leading figures claim-Labour’s 2nd referendum policy was genuinely popular with the electorate, you’d think they’d jump at the chance of forming the next government before Christmas. But they know their Brexit-blocking stance is unpopular which is why they daren’t put themselves up for re-election. The same goes for other MPs who oppose a poll, like the former Tory Anna Soubry.
The UK government says it will keep trying to get a general election. But there’s not much chance of that. Let’s face it: there is no logic in a pro-Remain parliament supporting an election which is likely to return a pro-Brexit House. The best strategy for those wanting to block Britain’s exit from the EU is to carry on doing what they’ve been doing so successfully for the past three-and-a-half years: delaying.
Don’t forget MPs are very well paid and have generous allowances, so a period of political paralysis, during which they’re continuing to draw their salaries and claim their expenses, isn‘t, for them, a huge crisis. On the contrary, it suits them down the ground. It’s true that the Tories have done much themselves to contribute to the deadlock. It was David Cameron’s government which brought in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in 2011, which requires a sitting Prime Minister to obtain a 2/3 majority if he/she wanted to call an early general election. Without that piece of legislation, Boris Johnson wouldn’t need Labour support to go to the country. It was a Tory Prime Minister Theresa May who needlessly called a General election in 2017 which threw away her party’s majority and tilted things firmly in favour of Remain.
So we can’t just blame the opposition parties for where we are today- the Tories have played their part too. What a mess they’ve all created. Meanwhile, the poor disenfranchised public can only watch on with a mixture of bewilderment and disgust.
2. To #Leave the EU may be a judgement call but to uphold #democracy is not and transcends all other issues. It is profoundly dangerous to tell 17.4 million people their vote can be ignored even annulled because the elite don’t accept the result. Without democracy we have nothing— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) October 25, 2019
Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.