The UK Parliament delegated the decision on whether to leave or to remain, in the European Union, to the British electorate. A consequence of this decision was that, on 23rd June 2016, we had a referendum on the subject.
In the run-up to the referendum the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, made it abundantly clear that a vote to leave the European Union also meant a vote to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market. His message was accompanied by what is now referred to as ‘Project Fear’.
George Osborne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, predicted that in the event of a vote to leave the EU an emergency budget would be needed. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, who should know better than to get embroiled in politics, effectively predicted economic chaos; apparently many thousands of jobs would be lost, inward investment in the UK would be massively reduced and house prices would crash. Strangely and despite the result of the referendum none of these predictions came true.
On 23rd June 2016 the UK held its historic referendum. The results were:
Despite what some might, and still do, suggest 1.27M is not a small majority. It was quite clear and unambiguous that the UK had, despite Project Fear, overwhelmingly rejected continued membership of the EU.
David Cameron resigned as UK Prime Minister and a contest(?) ensued. In truth it wasn’t a contest, it was more a coronation that bizarrely left the UK with a Prime Minister who had openly supported remaining in the UK. There was no contest because Michael Gove, now back in the Cabinet, did a ‘hatchet’ job on Boris Johnson, which meant that the Conservative Party membership never had an opportunity to vote.
Our new Prime Minister has repeatedly told us that, “Brexit means Brexit.” She never actually explained that her view of Brexit was and remains substantially different to that held by 17.411M voters. An example of Theresa May’s political ineptitude is the fact that, with a 17 seat Conservative Party parliamentary majority, a small but working majority, she decided to announce a General Election.
Having been announced on 18th April 2017, the election was duly held on the 8th June 2017. The Conservative Party lost its overall majority and there is a continuing debate as to why. Was it Theresa May’s rather arrogant (presidential-style) of electioneering, or were the electorate perhaps becoming rather disenchanted with a Party that appeared to have little desire to deliver on the referendum result? It is worth noting that both main parties (Conservative and Labour) made manifesto pledges to deliver Brexit. One consequence of the General Election was that Theresa May’s Conservatives were obliged to enter a ‘marriage of convenience’ with the Democratic Unionist Party. Why so many people, including the political pundits (of whom there are many), made such hard work of this is odd. The Conservative Party used to be the Conservative and Unionist Party. Unionist is by no means a footnote; it means a commitment to the preservation of the Union, without internal borders, of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
I’ve got slightly ahead of myself. One of the ‘elephants in the room’ is the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which was yet another Treaty affecting UK sovereignty that the electorate wasn’t consulted on. The Lisbon Treaty amended existing Treaties in order to make the necessary changes to allow an enlarged EU with 27 Member States to work more effectively. It also made changes to the way in which EU legislation is proposed and adopted. In essence, it laid the cornerstone for a United States of Europe. It broadens the areas where decisions are made by a qualified majority, especially in such areas as external trade or police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters; thereby rendering the EU more efficient, whilst at the same time further eroding national sovereignty. The competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union is expanded into the areas of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, where to date its jurisdiction has been limited. This begs the question, “If the UK doesn’t leave the EU, why would it need: Law Lords, a Justice Secretary, or a Supreme Court?”
Triggering Article 50 on 29th March 2017 meant that, barring a change in the Law, the UK would leave the EU on 29th March 2019. Since March 2017 much has happened:
On 14th March most of our MPs effectively repudiated the referendum result and the decision, endorsed by those same MPs to endorse the triggering of Article 50. Make no mistake, the House of Commons voted to delay and potentially postpone Brexit. The ‘good news’ comes in three forms:
I find it strange that four Cabinet Ministers quite blatantly abstained from the momentous vote on the 14th March, thereby showing themselves to be disloyal to the Prime Minister. I find it stranger still that these same Cabinet Ministers are still in post. This seems to suggest that Theresa May has lost all control of her own Cabinet.
Mrs May is now apparently saying to MPs, “It’s your patriotic duty to support my deal, which isn’t Brexit, or not leaving the EU at all.” False “Patriotism is”, as Samuel Johnson is reputed to have said, “the last refuge of a scoundrel.
I have an alternative.
Let us now have a General Election where every prospective Parliamentary candidate, including sitting Members, are obliged to unequivocally answer some initial, but fundamental questions:
The answers are plainly yes, or no, without much room for equivocation. For question 2 the answer should be “No”. For questions 1, 3 and 4 the answer should be “Yes”. Answer the questions and only then will we consider your fitness to be our MP!
For the record, I am not:
Having been an officer in Her Majesty’s Regular Army, I am a passionate supporter of both democracy and the United Kingdom. It is my real and present fear that the House of Commons is betraying both.