Betrayal – unprincipled, anti-democratic, treacherous betrayal – is in the air in Brexit-embattled Britain.
Ever since the British people voted in last year’s referendum to exit the EU, Remainers have gone all-out to try to reverse a vote that they have decided in their pompous and arrogant outrage simply cannot be allowed to stand.
They have consistently proclaimed economic apocalypse then, now and in the future, even though official forecasts of Brexit-induced doom and gloom have had to be declared the junk they always were.
They have consistently trashed the millions of people who voted for Brexit as too stupid to understand what it would entail.
Now they are trying to use Theresa May’s political weakness to reverse Brexit by manipulative abuse of the parliamentary process.
This coming week the government will publish its Repeal Bill, which will enable the transfer of thousands of EU laws and regulations into domestic UK law on the day Britain leaves the European Union.
Given the enormous number of EU measures which the UK wants to incorporate into its domestic law, the only way to do this is by use of executive government orders – known colloquially as “Henry VIII powers”.
In general, these orders are rightly viewed with suspicion as a means by which the government can bypass parliamentary scrutiny to get its way. In the unique circumstances of Britain extricating itself from the EU, however, they are the only way to do it since parliamentary scrutiny and votes on every measure would tie up the process for years and make it in practice inoperable.
Which is apparently precisely what the Remainers intend to bring about. According to the Sunday Times, anti-Brexit MPs and peers from all parties said they would try to derail the Repeal Bill by targeting these executive orders and insisting parliament votes on hundreds of these measures.
The Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “The bill will end up being legislative war. This bill will look like a Christmas tree because of the number of amendments that will be hung onto it.”
The Sunday Times reports: “May seemed impervious to claims that her hardline Brexit approach had cost the Tories seats in London or that she needed to leave open the option of remaining in the customs union and to withdraw her “red line” that the ECJ in Luxembourg should have no role in British public life. Both propositions have a growing following in the cabinet.”
Let’s parse that paragraph. It wasn’t Mrs May’s “hardline Brexit approach” that cost her seats in the election. Brexit hardly figured at all as an election issue. If Brexit influenced the vote in London, that was because London largely voted Remain –and some Remainers wanted to use the election to stop Brexit in its tracks.
In other words, it wasn’t “hard Brexit” they objected to. It was Brexit itself. “Hard Brexit” is a meaningless term deployed by Remainers trying to pretend there is some kind of “soft”, half-in, half-out position. There is not. There is either leaving the EU or remaining in the EU. That is the truth that the die-hard Remainers, including Remainer MPs, are trying to conceal. They have hijacked the language in order to mask their intended hijack of the democratic process for their anti-democratic ends.
Either remaining in the customs union or continuing to give the European Court of Justice authority over laws made by the UK parliament – as the Remainers are trying to bring about – would mean Britain would remain under the sway of the EU. It would therefore mean not leaving the EU at all.
If either or both propositions really do have “a growing following in the Cabinet”, then those Cabinet members are guilty of wanting to thwart the democratically-expressed wish of the people to leave the EU.
Not only is this incipient Remainer revolt anti-democratic – it is also treachery against the interests of the UK itself.
Many who voted Remain have accepted the Brexit result and now want the government to achieve the best deal for Britain in exiting the EU. Every statement by Remainer MPs intent on frustrating Brexit makes that best deal for Britain less likely. It undermines Britain’s bargaining position with the EU by giving the impression of disunity and weakness.
The Remainers are thus conniving at the EU’s bullying tactics. The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier last week warned British ministers and businesses calling for “frictionless trade” with the EU after Britain leaves that that is “not possible”.
Well, it’s only “not possible” if the likes of M. Barnier are determined to ensure that there is friction. There is nothing inevitable about friction. The UK doesn’t want friction with the EU when it leaves. The EU is threatening friction because it thinks it can frighten and browbeat the British into submission. The Remainer MPs are aiding and abetting it in this diplomatic war of attrition. Their behaviour is disgraceful and deplorable.
The fact is, however, that nothing has changed. The EU stands to lose far more than the UK from any “friction” after Brexit. Britain has the strongest cards in its own hands. The greatest danger to Britain’s interests is if the UK government acts instead as if it is weak.
So can the Remainer-ultras pull off their coup? Well, if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to bring the government down more than he wants Britain to leave the EU (his consistent position over the years) and joins with the Tory and other Remainer MPs, it could happen. But all those MPs will be seen to be sticking their thumb straight into the eye of British democracy.
People voted for Brexit for one overwhelming reason. They wanted to get their democracy back by by restoring the UK’s sovereign power over its own laws and policies. By this attempted coup, the Remainer-ultras are showing their contempt for democracy.
Constituency by constituency, the British people must now make clear to these treacherous MPs that if they do so then they themselves will pay the ultimate democratic price at the next general election.