BY ANDREW KELLY
It is becoming ever clearer that parliament is operating on its own mandate and is likely dangerously adrift from the will of the majority of the UK population. If true, this situation only breeds more discontent and likely has dangerous consequences for decades to come.
When Cameron allowed the second referendum, it was for two principal reasons:
The first – that the then PM was haemorrhaging votes to UKIP as a result of his handling of the increasingly federal demands from Europe, which would have ultimately impacted his party’s standing at a future general election. This trend was a symptom of the deeply held negative sentiment of a large section of the population that was concerned about the pooling of sovereignty within the European Union. The effects of this sentiment – a toxic effect on British politics and exacerbation of an existing and profound democratic deficit.
The second, and arguably more profound reason, was that the elected parliament was incapable of producing a rational solution to the problem of ‘Europe’. The political class had played, and continue to play, a (dangerous) game of ‘hide the pickle’ with the electorate by saying one thing on the stump and quite another within their Westminster tribal groupings. It was clear that, on the subject of Europe, significant numbers of MPs were holding views that were diametrically opposed to their constituents, hence the tedious and obvious deceit and the ongoing game.
Once the instruction to leave the EU was returned to parliament, that same deceit by MPs was modified to ‘respect the results of the vote’, whilst still maintaining their strongly-held views. Publicly, everyone was a democrat but buried away in MPs’ hearts it is now clear that there was a huge contradiction of employment versus conviction.
During the 2017 General Election both main parties campaigned on a manifesto that promised to deliver the referendum result and circa 80% of the electorate returned increased vote for these parties at the expense of those who stood on an anti-leave manifesto.
Fast-forward 18 months to the present day and parliament is now forced to decide. And, as with all things of prodigious significance, the truth will out. What yesterday’s performance in parliament has demonstrated is that parliament has not in fact evolved with the result of the referendum and flatly refuses to recognise the democratic will of the majority. In that sense parliament remains, as it has from the very beginning, out of line with the course of events: from an initial failure to resolve the issue in the first instance | ‘losing’ the referendum | deceiving the public into believing that parliament had evolved by accepting the instruction | and now, in the final stages, it has been forced to reveal its deception to the public.
The game is up.
To resolve the blindingly obvious disconnects in this process, there are calls for all sorts of options within a now dangerously-adrift parliament that pays no heed to the People’s original instruction. Some of these options risk causing further serious and long-term damage to the UK.
The confusion in this phase is exacerbated by the interference in the UK’s political process by the EU’s political court, the ECJ, in allowing the UK to revoke Article 50 – however this ‘judgement’ will be caveated by the fact that this will be a one-off judgement that will not apply to any other European country. The rearguard action we witness now is an act of desperation by the Remain elite that has been coordinated from the very beginning of the exit process – it includes the likes of Blair advising the EU leadership on all things British, and various British political players, including members of the Supreme Court, with a collective intent of defeating the will of the majority at any cost. If it walks like a duck and quacks…
The logical answer, as it always should be, lies with the very people who are truly sovereign – the UK electorate. It would be dangerous to call for another referendum and it would not solve the core problem that has caused most/all of the problems in the country’s departure process, which is parliament’s secretly-held, though now obvious, deception.
The only way to bring parliament into line with the electorate is to hold a general election on the sole issue of the UK’s departure from Europe with all factors presented, debated and finally voted upon. In this way all parties will be forced to focus on the single issue that has caused such division in the country since 1974 and not their party’s chosen subject and perceived political strengths.
This is not about the political parties – it is about the will of the people. In calling an election MPs can explain their positions to their constituents, the result of which will be that each party can produce a truer manifesto than the 2017 exercise in deception. The result of this general election will be the electorate returning a parliament that truly reflects its will on the greatest issue for a generation and the country can move on. Stand for leave or stand for remain.
In time terms the EU can wait – it is in the EU’s interests that this exercise is conducted correctly, and a delay is a minor issue by comparison.
For domestic parties, that are also deeply divided for a host of reasons, a general election in this style will produce a desperately needed reboot of a political class that bears no resemblance to the people of this country – a reboot that is frankly long overdue.