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Parliament versus the people

So here’s how things stand. Leaving the EU with no deal is now the only way in which parliament can implement the Brexit referendum result, a decision handed by parliament to the people of Britain to make.

All signs point to MPs voting today against leaving with no deal. They will be voting against the act of parliament they themselves passed, under which the UK leaves the EU on March 29 regardless of whether or not withdrawal terms have been agreed.

They will thus be voting to trash the decision of the people that they themselves invited the people to make. For every alternative to leaving with no deal – a delay to the date of departure, Norway-plus, some alternative form of customs union, a second referendum, Mrs May’s deal itself that was voted down last night – is a version of remaining under EU control.

If MPs vote against leaving with no deal, they will be voting to stick their fingers in the voters’ eyes. They will be unequivocally throwing down the gauntlet: parliament versus the people.

Why therefore should any British citizen vote for any of them ever again? Democracy is a bargain between rulers and the ruled. If MPs vote against no-deal tonight, they will be tearing up that bargain. Why should any British citizen continue to have any faith in any of these MPs from whichever political party? Why should any British citizen continue to have any faith in the democratic process at all?

Mrs May said one true thing in parliament yesterday. If MPs do not implement Brexit, their constituents will not blame Brussels. They will instead blame them.

If MPs vote against leaving with no deal, they won’t just be voting to blow up Brexit. They’ll be voting to blow up their own political parties and faith in British democracy itself.

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