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Hold to your principles, you wobbling Brexiteers


THE nation needs the few honest MPs in the Commons not to bow the knee to Baal and keep at least some hands clean in the public view.

It is disappointing to hear that so robust a Brexiteer as Esther McVey once was, having paid the price of resigning her Cabinet post unlike the duplicitous Remainers who voted against government policy and kept their jobs, is being terrified into voting for the May ‘no Brexit’ Withdrawal Agreement. For that is what it is: an unjust and astonishing plan by a British PM to place governance of our country into foreign and clearly hostile hands. It is not the path to Brexit, it is not a trade deal, it is the way to being weakened and degraded for two years and having ‘negotiations’ for any deal at all being shaped and conditioned by EU alignments. This is the way to a federal Europe and not leaving the EU.

The Esther McVeys and the Simon Clarkes who bewail ‘the gun being put to their heads’ need to be reminded of this: better always to stick with principle than to play games with risk. The choice facing them is still between May’s No Brexit WA and leaving the EU with no deal – despite the extremist revolutionary Remainer Parliament clamouring for an extension of Article 50 muddying the waters.

Taking the No Brexit option – which is what giving May her WA victory means – will cement the May/Hammond axis in power to continue with their policy of appeasement and national surrender. Though voting down the WA may mean some chaos briefly and more delay, it is surely less than the infinite delay of May’s WA. Most importantly, this is the surest way to hasten the disastrous duo’s long-awaited ejection; to open the way to a new way of engaging with the EU and to battling for rather against the interests of the UK.

To quote the sage judgement of the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in response to the very slender ladder offered by jurists’ interpretation of the Vienna Convention re the dreaded ‘backstop’ for wobbling Brexiteers to climb down: 

‘Personally, I would prefer a no-deal at this stage rather than take the risk of the Withdrawal Agreement, which creates a window of vulnerability when we are less sovereign than we were as EU members, or not sovereign at all. My premise is that the EU is not prepared for the economic and trade shocks of a no-deal Brexit and would face a political crisis on multiple fronts, not least in Brussels-Dublin diplomacy. The unreformed eurozone has no monetary and fiscal defences. It’s already close to a Japanese deflation trap. In other words, the EU is weaker than the Article 50 process suggests. A clean break would shake up the political and strategic landscape and lead to an entirely different sort of discussion between Brussels and London. I am willing to wager a free trade deal on Nafta-like terms would suddenly be possible.’

Voting against the WA at the very least keeps Brexit alive, especially given the desperate economic straits the EU is in and against which a new PM could extract a quick, honourable and fair deal. The WA by contrast ensures that can never happen.

So Esther and co, please start to think clearly again – you can transcend all the Westminster irrationality and internecine Conservative chicanery, if you stick to principle.

As a theologian I hold firmly to the view that the future is always open, that new and surprising events can happen, that freezing the frame in how we see things is a grave mistake, and I hope that Brexiteer MPs will hold to justice and principle, not insinuate themselves into this deadening and clearly wrong WA ghetto – it is not inevitable, however much Mrs May robotically insists it is, as if revealed by the deity on tablets of stone. She inscribed these tablets and they are an attack on our democracy itself.

Charles Moore says he understands the horrible situation into which the PM has thrust pro-Brexit MPs. But it is not the impossible dilemma the headline suggests. To quote his final paragraph:

‘There is a deeper, democratic objection to voting for her deal. What would it say to the people “out of doors”? There are 650 MPs in the Commons. Is no one left to speak for the majority who put them there? If so, don’t suppose that the Commons in its current form, or the main parties that compose it, will last much longer. After Mrs May’s fiasco is finished, there will be the next battle. The country will need people with clean hands to fight it.’

That rules out most in this foul-smelling pit of shame and injustice, from the Speaker outwards, including the new army of the Tory confused that former leader Michael Howard is rallying. The facts that have changed, Baron Howard, are that extremist Tory MPs have hijacked Brexit. But they are not controlling it, unless you let them. Lord Howard’s hand-wringing logic – stay as we are, keep the status quo – marks him as Howard the coward.

Thank goodness for at least one MP of clear principle, Owen Paterson, standing firm. In his article in the Telegraph yesterday, he argues by contrast why he won’t be backing Mrs May’s deal and why we have to Leave on March 29th: it’s the law.

He sees his moral duty clearly – to preserve the democratic rights of the people and not betray them for other loyalties.

If Brexiteers fail to follow his lead and cave in to the electric shock treatment of the PM, albeit ‘holding their noses’, then our democracy itself will completely delegitimise itself. Parliament will never recover from this act of handing the nation over to foreign rule; it would be treason. Ultimately no MP has the right to sign away the trust of governance to another power.

In the Old Testament Book of Kings, recording a terrible era in Israel’s history of idolatry to the god Baal, we read: ‘Nevertheless, I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.’ (1 Kings 19:18 ) How many MPs will resist the false gods of ruthless managerial technocracy, will resist the temptation to succumb to the No Brexit idol of Mrs May’s WA?

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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