Friday, 4 November 2016

MPs blocking Brexit should double their home security

Being at a loose end this evening I accepted an invite to the local sports and social club fireworks display. It was a very working class affair and not really my scene. My host introduced me to a friend of hers. Quite clearly as working class as they come. He told me that he voted to leave. "I don't understand what the delay is" he said.

I tried to explain that Brexit is not as easy as it looks and we need time to prepare but in the trail of yesterday's court ruling he was not minded to listen. "It's quite clear what they doing" he said. He then turned away from me and went to the bar. His body language was clear. He didn't want my explanations or elaborations even as a leave voter. He knew what he voted for. And so do I. Patience with our ruling class is very much running out.

And on the drive back I did listen to Daniel Zeichner, a Cambridge MP expressing his naked contempt for the verdict. He is a man tired of living. If my encounter today was indicative of working class leave sentiment, and I strongly suspect it is, then faith in democracy is on trial here. To have a Labour MP, supposedly the party of the working class openly defying working class sentiment tells you absolutely everything you need to know.

Zeichner has it that he is representing his constituency, which voted to remain, which puts him in a minority of MPs - and he is entitled to do so, but we voted to leave as a whole country. Hairsplitting sophistry at this point will not wash. If MPs wanted conditions to Brexit then they had every opportunity to set them out when they passed the referendum bill.

I have had a cursory look at the high court judgement. It doesn't make much sense to me. It is the repeal act and the ratification of the exit settlement that revokes rights, not the article 50 notification. The legal sophistry is pretty thin gruel if you ask me.

Parliament gets a vote at the end of the process where they get a vote on the repeal bill. They can either refuse to pass it (meaning we drop out without a deal) or they can vote for the bill passing into law whatever Mrs M has negotiated. That's their choice. Take it or leave it. This ruling is really just there to give MPs a chance to meddle.

And to me I really don't buy MPs sincerity when they talk of sovereignty. They shouldn't need a judge to tell them they are sovereign. If it is the majority view of parliament that they must vote on a motion triggering Article 50 then they can collectively wield their power in the Commons. They could effectively go on strike and threaten to frustrate all other government business if they feel so strongly about it. If they are sincere that is. That would reflect the gravity of it.

Outsourcing this to a court is exactly the same kind of intellectual and moral cowardice that leads them to hand over powers to the EU. I see no role for the courts in this at all. The world over representatives can and do bring governments to a standstill. MPs have that power, they have that sovereignty. They could exercise it but prefer to play these silly little games. 

This further compounds their uselessness. Why don't we just turn every political decision over to the courts if this is how they want it? But then they pretty much did that by taking us into the EU, putting the ECJ atop of everything. The mentality runs deep. This is why we need root and branch constitutional reform. Parliament isn't fit for purpose and MPs have no idea what their function is.

In the end they can play their silly little ploys and dig into all the legalistic loopholes but the fact remains that MPs voted by a wide margin to hand this decision over to the people. The government made it clear their verdict would be acted upon and the only thing that stands in the way of this happening now is the MPs elected on tiny mandates in constituencies which  mostly voted to leave. Zeichner want to throw that all in the bin and say it's still up for debate. Well, it isn't, and I invite him to come down to my local and tell that to the locals. He will need security.

The bottom line is that Parliament voted themselves out of this debate. Their mindless chatter adds nothing to the debate and in the end can serve only to delay the inevitable while further undermining faith in the democratic process. Zeichner and his ilk are harming Britain and playing with fire.

The news that the pound has recovered somewhat is probably to do with how the markets interpret this - that hard Brexit is now less likely if MPs have their say. But that speaks to their own ineptitude in being incapable of reading the situation. Hard Brexit has been off the table for quite a while now. The banks and the money men made their case during the referendum that there would be a cost to Brexit. This we accepted. Still, we voted to leave. Whatever happens in the markets can be recovered in due course. What MPs are doing to democracy however, will take a generation to repair. 

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