JUST when you thought the Tories couldn’t appear any more pathetic, out comes Kemi Badenoch with a written statement outlining how even the modest attempts at purging our statute books of EU laws has been abandoned, apparently to placate pre-emptively the legions of unelected Europhiles infesting the House of Lords.
This news was met with rejoicing from the usual suspects: Isabel Hardman at the Spectator said it was a good decision, one that will only upset ‘hardcore Brexiteers’ (an adjective which was later dropped, presumably due to the outraged comment section).
She went on to say that ‘giving ministers the ability to scrap laws at whim and without scrutiny wasn’t really an example of MPs taking back control. It was an executive power grab.’ Someone at the Speccie should really take Ms Hardman aside and explain that the laws to be scrapped were imported on to our statute books by direct fiat from unelected Brussels bureaucrats with no scrutiny whatsoever in the first place.
David Allen Green wrote in the Law and Policy blog that ‘the government is now getting real – and realistic – about Brexit . . . The clowning legislation of Jacob Rees-Mogg is being dumped . . . For this shift – like the Windsor framework – is a signal that Brexit silly season may be coming to an end’. By ‘Brexit silly season’ Green presumably means the half-hearted attempts at undoing the abject betrayal of the referendum result by Theresa May, and the slightly less abject betrayal by Boris Johnson.
The very fact that Sunak ordered Badenoch to use a written statement to sneak out the announcement, admitting they will be reviewing only 600 laws by the end of the year rather than 2,400 promised in his leadership campaign, is confirmation, if it were needed, that he is every bit as much a coward as his prime ministerial predecessors.
Even the Speaker of the Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, took issue with such weaselly behaviour, admonishing Kemi Badenoch over the manner in which she announced the government’s humiliating U-turn with so much pompous outrage I thought for a moment that Bercow had returned from exile to reclaim his rightful throne. If only the Speaker or his deputy had shown such righteous fury about the lack of scrutiny given to Net Zero, or when Andrew Mitchell cleared the House before Andrew Bridgen gave a speech on vaccine injuries.
I remember when Boris Johnson’s awful deal was being debated on Politics Live a few years ago, Andrew Neil promoted his view that it surely made sense for us to copy and paste all the EU laws across first, and afterwards decide which ones we want to keep or repeal. I couldn’t believe my ears, having always considered him an oasis of reason in a sea of Remoaner hysteria. But clearly he’d been marinated in that woke BBC soup for just a bit too long.
Au contraire, Mr Neil, surely it makes more sense to use Brexit as an unprecedented opportunity to prune our wildly overgrown statute book. Filter out all the EU-imposed laws designed at protecting inefficient Italian lawnmower manufacturers or Romanian casinos or whatever, and choose the handful of EU laws which happen to align with our own national interests, leaving the rest on the threshing floor. Alas, it was not to be. The very idea was never even raised.
To think it’s been almost seven years since that glorious, hopeful morning when we discovered the nation had voted for freedom. How far we’ve fallen since then. I still remember my astonishment during the summer of 2016 when Theresa May was being considered as a potential leader. I had naively assumed after ‘Leave’ won the referendum and Cameron resigned that someone who believed in Brexit would be PM. All that has happened since is the inevitable consequence of having someone who campaigned for us to remain in the EU in charge of leading us out of it.
The idea made sense only to the Remainer-dominated political and media elites. The establishment lost touch with the people: that’s why we had a referendum in the first place. They were beaten, licked their wounds, and then regrouped, crowning one of their own to undermine Brexit from within. They settled down for the long war of attrition, while Leavers were celebrating as though we’d won.
How wrong we were, watching in horror as Brexit was diluted and delayed ever more each day. Years went by. Goalposts were moved miles from their original position, with newspeak conjured up to describe what we’d voted for as ‘hard’, ‘cliff-edge’, ‘crashing out’, etc. All of them post-hoc inventions to paint delivering on the referendum result as somehow extreme, while portraying a total sell-out as nice and soft and reasonable.
A true leader would have left the EU in its entirety shortly after the referendum result, when it became obvious the EU weren’t remotely interested in negotiating a mutually beneficial deal, but only in punishing us for leaving, and sending out a warning to other EU nations to prevent them from exiting too.
We should have called their bluff and left their club, defaulting on to WTO rules, and from there negotiated in a position of strength, not just on our future relationship with the EU but with the rest of the world simultaneously. No Article 50, no £40billion ransom payment, no mass immigration, no foreign courts, no EU laws; the uncertainty would have settled years ago and we’d be well established as a sovereign country by now, with a shedload of bilateral trade deals wrapped up to boot. It could have all been so easy! Instead we allowed the establishment Remainers to hype up that ideal scenario as a catastrophe, and otherwise steadfast Brexiteers bought it hook, line and sinker.
The House of Lords in particular is filled to the rafters with Brexit-despising Europhiles: this much is common knowledge. The simple truth is that no legislation worth a damn will ever get through them without a tremendous fight. Perhaps Sunak believes that with all the turmoil surrounding the catastrophic local election results, the last thing he needs is to be embroiled in a clash with the second house and the inevitable cohort of fake-conservatives within his own party. He is wrong in this. A bust-up is just what we need to see in a leader, someone willing to go toe-to-toe with the Remoaner establishment who are so used to getting their own way.
By caving in without even trying to fight, Sunak seals his own fate. Whether he simply doesn’t care or is just too afraid of confrontation is a moot point.
A constitutional crisis at the beginning of the last century and the resulting Parliament Act 1911 established the House of Commons’ supremacy over the House of Lords. The latter may be able to delay legislation, but they ultimately cannot prevent its passing by a determined government. And that’s the whole point: the way is there, but the will is sorely lacking.