The way in which British members of parliament of both parties have set out to undermine the UK’s attempts to leave the EU (the so-called “Brexit”, which is short for “British Exit” or “Britain Exit”) are a blatant example of a government not being prepared to carry out the wishes of the majority. They could scarcely have been more open about it.
They have twisted the meaning of the sovereignty of parliament. What that should mean is that “the will of the people as expressed through parliament is sovereign”, not that “parliament itself is sovereign”. The first is the true expression of democracy. The second makes them no better in attitude than most African governments which have no intention of actually carrying out the will of the people. And in the case of leaving the EU that was certainly the case.
For those who do not know the background of Brexit, the great majority of UK members of parliament of all parties (except one which was scarcely represented in parliament anyway) had no intention of leaving the EU. The only reason the then prime minister, David Cameron, put the matter to a referendum of the British people was to shut up a very small but very vociferous party, the United Kingdom Independence Party or UKIP, which was proving to be a thorn in his side.
But he did not believe for one minute that he could possibly lose the referendum. In fact, had he believed he might lose, he certainly would not have agreed to a referendum. But he was not alone in this. All members of parliament of all parties were also confident the public would vote to remain in the European Union.
So unprepared were the members of parliament to lose, and so certain were they that they would not, that no party had made any plans for what to do should the public decide it wanted to leave the EU. So when the result of the referendum was announced, parliament was caught unawares.
But although many members of parliament recognised their responsibility to their constituents to carry out their wishes – as democracy requires even if it was contrary to what the member of parliament wanted to do – many others did not. And they set out to destroy the Brexit negotiations.
The fact is, the UK was in a very strong position at the start. The EU needs strong trading links with the UK. It is a major market for many European businesses and industries, and it was vital for both sides to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. So it should have been a matter of simple negotiation in which each party was as anxious as the other to strike a mutually good accord.
But that was to reckon without British members of parliament who had no intention of carrying out the wishes of the British people and had every intention of remaining a full partner in Europe.
So, first, they forced the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, to officially start the process of leaving before she was ready, and before the government had a plan – remember what I said earlier, that no political party had created a plan for leaving because none of them believed the public would vote to leave?
Then they bickered and bickered so much that Theresa May was forced to call a general election to get a proper mandate from the British people to carry on with her negotiations. Unfortunately, her plan back-fired on her because the remainers had by then done such a good job of undermining the process that her majority in parliament was reduced. Not that that mattered, because too many of her own members of parliament were busy undermining her attempts.
Then the Labour party (the main opposition party in parliament) went to see the European leaders, clearly in an attempt to undermine the British position. That was bad enough, although anyone who knows the Labour party politicians would not expect any better of them. But what was far, far worse was when delegations of her own party also went behind her back to Europe. To put this into perspective, had people in any business undermined their own company in this way, they would have been instantly fired. And they would have become un employable anywhere else because no other potential employer would be so stupid as to take a trouble-make like this onto their staff. But of course, we are dealing with politicians here….
And because these politicians are so stupid, their constant infighting has forced Theresa May to water down the deal to the point where it is almost worthless – so bad, in fact, that when she presents the plan to parliament for approval, it will almost certainly be rejected by a large majority.
So far from the UK being in a position of strength, the European leaders and its negotiators realised that the UK was in an extremely weak bargaining position. So what have they done? They have done what anyone else would do, they have taken advantage and made it clear that the only deal on the table is Theresa May’s badly compromised one – one that parliament itself will almost certainly reject.
And the EU has been even cleverer. Under EU rules, once a country has started formal negotiations to leave, it cannot then change its mind and decide to stay in the EU unless all the EU’s member-states agree. However, the EU Court has decided that in the UK’s case, if it wants to stay in, it can on the present terms, and with no penalties. Thus leaving the door wide open for the complete collapse of Brexit.
And the death-knell of the desire of the British people to have an entirely independent United Kingdom. So British members of parliament are prepared cause all sorts of problems for Britain rather than give in to the wishes of the electorate. Does this remind you of a certain ZANU PF and many other African governments?Post published in: Featured