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The Fury of Britain

Reactions to the ruling by three high court judges that the invocation of Article 50, taking Britain out of the European Union, must be subject to parliamentary approval were predictably shrill, and all too predictably unreflective.

Reason, on this issue at least, but also on many others, has fled to brutish beasts. 

‘Brexiters’ – as we now call those who vote ‘leave’ – cried foul, seeing in the judicial decision yet more evidence of an Establishment plot to thwart the Will Of The People.  ‘Remainers’ responded to this imputation with scorn, deriding the Brexiters as demented conspiracy theorists.  Missing in all this hoo-hah was the voice of reason. 

No longer is there a voice of reason in British politics.  On the matter of the EU, one is either wholly for it or entirely against it, and that is that, no ifs or buts.  Complexity – and the measures that will be required to effect Britain’s departure are nothing if not complex – has become a dirty word, part of the code used to camouflage high-level jiggery-pokery.

Britain once prided itself – justifiably or not, one may argue – on the virtues of common sense and reasonableness.  Those words, too, have been consigned to the political sin-bin. The fury of the electorate, on both sides of this and other contentious issues, now knows no bounds.   There is no room left for tempered debate or compromise. 

As far as Brexiters are concerned, the EU referendum result must stand and must be implemented without delay – preferably by close of business tonight, it seems.  That, at least, was the gist of the remarks heard from some members of the audience on the BBC programme ‘Question Time’ last night. 

The judges may have been better advised to ‘stay out of politics’ – as some commentators have written – but one can only presume that they made their decision as they saw fit.  In doing so, they themselves stressed that they were offering no judgements on the merits of Britain leaving or staying in the EU, and that their ruling was delivered in the vein and tradition of strict constitutionalism.  One has to believe them, or face the unpalatable alternative that the whole legal system is even more corrupt than its political equivalent.

There are without question Remainers who would grasp any opportunity to overturn the verdict of the referendum.  Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of them.  There are others in high places whose opinions, unlike his, still count.  But whether they form a conspiratorial mass dedicated to that proposition is doubtful – not that evidence to the contrary would be believed in the present febrile climate.

My own view, as a sad and frustrated Remainer, is straightforward: of course parliament should have the final word, after considered debate; and of course its ultimate vote should reflect the popular will as reflected in the referendum.

To remove parliament from the process altogether would be absurd in a country that defines itself as a parliamentary democracy – that, too, is now a phrase that apparently rings hollow – even though one of the primary considerations in the Brexit vote was to ‘take back’ sovereignty to the parliament in Westminster from the one in Strasbourg.

Politicians have without question betrayed the trust of the electorate from time to time, but eliminating them from what needs to be done next will not restore it, merely undermine it further.    

What concerns me about the state of mind of the electors – and not only those in Britain – is the absence of judgement applied to replacing sitting representatives, admittedly some of them more a part of the problem than the solution, with simple-minded demagogues.  The people of this island’s decayed industrial regions, and those in America’s, may well have reason to feel forgotten and neglected.  But will the likes of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump represent them more honourably or honestly?   I think not. 

Strange, is it not, that the oppressed poor should flock to, in the first instance a former commodities trader, and in the second, a property developer, to champion their cause? Since when did greedy market speculators have the answers to a working man’s prayers?

Overturn the government in power at the ballot box by all means, but replace it with something better than these opportunistic peddlers of simple-minded slogans.

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One Comment

  1. James Keck James Keck

    John, as I am not privy to the precise method that the Brexit vote took to achieving its goal of leaving the EU I cannot properly reply. However, I cannot believe it succeeded without proper legal process.

    Those who accept the process as valid, look at reversing the decision as a possible dangerous precedent for your country as well as mine. There seems to be a will of the people issue here. Like Trump or not, the will of the people seems to have him in serious contention for the Oval Office.

    The main issue is crudeness vs. criminality in this years election. Is it at all possible that you can see Trump in office with a strong cabinet round him to keep him in check. His VP is excellent and his advisors more than capable.

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