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Parliament got us into this Brexit mess, now it must get us out


Writing in yesterday’s Telegraph, William Hague describes the probable Parliamentary results of either a Brexit deal or no deal. The outcome is the same – constitutional crisis (at best) – as neither option is likely to garner sufficient votes, leaving the country with a government that has refused to back the clear instruction it was given by the electorate.

What Lord Hague misses is that this lunacy is entirely of Parliament’s own making. It was Parliament that decided it required a ‘meaningful’ vote on the Brexit terms. Leaving aside for a moment the implication that many votes in Parliament are meaningless, it would of course be possible for a charismatic, intelligent, responsible and persuasive MP of unimpeachable integrity to propose a motion to the effect that, upon consideration, Parliament does not need a vote, ‘meaningful’ or otherwise, as the government has a clear mandate to deliver Brexit. Problem solved.

Finding such an MP, let alone enabling him or her to garner the support that would be required, would be a challenge. Which in part explains how Parliament has got itself into such a hole. When we rejected the rule of Brussels to return sovereignty to Westminster we also denied politicians and civil servants of one of their habitual excuses – ‘can’t do what you want as European law prevents it’. Worse, it now turns the spotlight squarely on the government machine and, frankly, few can like what they see. The country’s debts are astronomical (never forget that this is a tax upon future generations: that’s your grandchildren and great-grandchildren), almost nothing has been done to prevent another crash, incompetence has become institutionalised in what are laughingly described as ‘public services’ and presiding over it all are the buffoons in the House of Commons and Tony’s cronies and their ilk in the bloated House of Lords.

But what stalks the political class most is fear – now that the electorate has had a look at Brussels and decided it does not like what it sees, it is entirely possible, if not probable, that it has had a similar look at Westminster and reached a similar conclusion. Is, for example, the numerically challenged Diane Abbott really the best person that the voters of Hackney can find to represent them? Is John Bercow really the best person to run the debates of the House of Commons? And why is the most grotesquely dishonest Prime Minister of my lifetime, Tony Blair, treated so deferentially by the (supposedly) impartial BBC and allowed back on the airwaves to blather about his view of democracy? (That would be the one who ignored a million-strong anti-war march, faked a dossier and went off to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on a demented ego trip). At least the idiot Cameron (who landed the country in this mess with his refusal even to contingency-plan for the referendum voting out) has kept quiet.

Why should we not only put up with this idiocy, why should we pay some 45 per cent of our earnings to keep it on the road? If we can get out of the EU can we not also put our own Houses of Parliament back in order? It’s been done before: Magna Carta, the Gunpowder Plot, The Glorious Revolution, repeal of the Corn Laws, universal suffrage: all were triggered by general dissatisfaction with the then government.

So we who voted out must remember that delivering Brexit requires our Parliamentary representatives to act like turkeys voting for Christmas. Those in Westminster need to reflect on the fact that Christmas happens whether the turkeys want it or not; their choice is whether they get a dignified, clean humane death or we end up with blood and feathers all over the place – but the turkey still in the oven.

Along with 17million others, I voted to leave the EU. I did not vote for an unnecessary Parliamentary and constitutional crisis and I do not expect my democratic representatives to engineer one, inadvertently or otherwise. Nor do I accept that such an outcome would be lawful, nor will I respect the authority of a Parliament that delivers such chaos. By the time our elected windbags get back to Westminster from their conference season they should reflect that the six weeks to do a deal expires close to the Fifth of November. Brexit is far more widely supported than Catholic emancipation ever was.

Perhaps the last words should come from Kipling, who probably understood what it is to be British (Saxon) better than most of the population of Westminster (in this context, I suggest, the Normans):

The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.

But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.

When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,

And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing’, my son, leave the Saxon alone.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here.

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