RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Democracy? It’s all gone Humpty Dumpty as the politicians take leave of their senses
The entire political class have taken leave of their senses. Both during the referendum campaign and since the result was announced, their behaviour has bordered on the clinically insane.
Of course, you should never underestimate their uncanny ability to make everything about them. But the unedifying orgy of self-indulgence we have seen over the past week has plumbed new depths of cynicism and opportunism . . .
No, not this past week. The paragraphs above are taken from my column on July 1, 2016, a few days after the result was declared. I warned you back then that the fix was already in, that embittered Remainers would do everything in their power to stop Brexit, either by holding a second referendum or forcing a General Election.
For the past almost three years we’ve been living in a Looking Glass World where, like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, words mean whatever the politicians say they mean
Getting on for three years later, and a few days before we were due to escape, that’s exactly where we are right now. As the Tory leadership candidates jockeyed for position to succeed Call Me Dave, I also said that Theresa May, a Remainer who spent the referendum campaign hiding behind the sofa, shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of No 10.
Then again, what do I know?
It gives me no pleasure to have been proved horribly right. By now, I had hoped we would be free of the shackles of the EU, forging a brilliant future as a freebooting, independent nation once more.
Fat chance of that happening any time soon. If ever.
Believe me, this is a column I didn’t want to have to write. Like you, I’m thoroughly sick of the whole Brexit circus, which is what the political class have been banking on all along.
The heart sinks whenever someone asks: ‘What’s going to happen over Brexit, Rich?’
I can only reply: ‘Ask me one on sport.’
As I wrote some time ago, I’ve run out of invective. The bile mine is exhausted. Fury has given way to resignation and despair. We can only watch this slow-motion car crash unfold with impotent frustration.
I’d always believed there would probably be some kind of 11th-hour form of words stitched up. It wouldn’t be ideal, but we’d have to swallow some watered down, marshmallow soft form of Brexit, which would allow us to leave with a modicum of dignity.
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Sadly, Mrs May’s dismal, defeatist ‘deal’ doesn’t even reach that threshold. Nor will it, no matter how many times she brings it back to the Commons.
But I suppose it was always on the cards that the Remain headbangers were never going to rest until they’d halted Brexit altogether.
As of now, it looks as if they’ve won. They’re certainly well ahead on away goals. Ruling out No Deal effectively means No Brexit.
Be in no doubt that what we are witnessing is a coup against the people. There may not be tanks on the streets, but it’s a coup all the same. A few hundred MPs have decided to defy the will of the 17,410,742 British citizens who voted to leave the EU. It was the largest number of people to have voted for anything in our proud history.
But the majority of ‘Hon members’ have been determined to overturn the referendum result, despite repeatedly promising to ‘respect’ it. The electorate is being treated with undisguised contempt. If they get away with it — which they probably will — Britain will have ceased to be a proper democracy.
Any chance of securing a dignified exit from the EU was scuppered on Wednesday night, when MPs voted to take No Deal off the table.
What’s the point of entering any kind of negotiation when your opponents know there’s no chance of you walking away without a deal, no matter how derisory?
About the same as agreeing to pay a £39 billion bill up front, I guess, without knowing what you’re going to get in return. If you’re not prepared to walk away empty-handed, you’re going to get taken to the cleaners.
Curiously, one of the proposers of the No Deal motion was Labour MP Jack Dromey, a former trades union official and husband of Harriet Harman.
Jack used to be a national officer with the TGWU, now Unite. Somehow I can’t ever imagine him going into talks with an employer, on his hands and knees, promising that he’d take whatever pathetic pay rise they decided to offer and guaranteeing there was no danger that his members would go on strike. He’d have been lynched as a class traitor.
A lighter moment: Mrs May sees the funny side during yesterday’s debate as she sits in the Commons with Steve Barclay and Michael Gove
So why does he think that’s an appropriate way to approach negotiations with the EU?
Still, when it comes to Brexit, the usual rules don’t seem to apply. For the past almost three years we’ve been living in a Looking Glass World where, like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, words mean whatever the politicians say they mean.
Promises to respect the referendum result turn out not to be worth the manifestos they are written on.
‘No Deal is better than a bad deal,’ was just another meaningless, insincere pledge.
‘Brexit means Brexit.’ Don’t make me laugh. ‘We will leave on March 29, 2019.’ In your dreams.
On Monday night, we were asked to believe that May had secured a famous victory in Strasbourg. Anyone who watched her humiliated, hollowed-out husk sitting alongside a bombastic Jean-Claude Drunker at their press conference would have had no problem working out that she had achieved absolutely nothing of significance.
In the interests of gallantry, it is almost de rigueur to acknowledge that the Prime Minister has worked hard, done her best in difficult circumstances.
But, as I wrote in July 2016, she was never up to the job. Nor was her heart in it. She capitulated to the EU’s demands from the off, drove Leave campaigners from her Cabinet, and relied on unelected civil servants resolutely opposed to Brexit to construct her ‘deal’.
Worst of all, she deceived the British public, for which she deserves never to be forgiven. She’s entitled to humiliate herself, but she’s not entitled to humiliate her country.
May is by no means the only culprit, though. The 17.4 million Leave voters have been comprehensively betrayed by an unholy, cross-party alliance of MPs, big business, the judiciary and most of the media.
You can trace this week’s events back to the court case brought by that strange woman Gina Miller. Remember her?
Mrs Miller, married to a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager, and bankrolled by wealthy Remainers, many of whom lived abroad, managed to persuade the Supreme Court to give Parliament — not the Prime Minister — the power to determine when, and if, Brexit might happen.
It was, you might say, the ultimate backstop. Since then, MPs have gleefully seized even more control of the process, finally allowing them to stop Brexit in its tracks this week.
Theresa May, a Remainer who spent the referendum campaign hiding behind the sofa, shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of No 10, Richard Littlejohn writes
Meanwhile, Tony Blair, a former Prime Minister, has been encouraging EU leaders to stand firm against Britain.
‘Traitor’ is a highly-charged word, but how else to describe an ex-PM conspiring with foreign powers to thwart the will of his own people? Maybe Blair still hankers to be President of Europe some day.
Ultimately, however, this is about much more than just Brexit. It’s about how we are governed and whether we live in a functioning democracy. Right now, we don’t.
Why bother with a second referendum or, even, a General Election? We’ve had both in the past three years and the politicians have simply ignored promises they made at the time.
The referendum gave a clear instruction to Leave. At the election, 85 per cent of people voted for parties who promised to respect the referendum result.
Yet the overwhelming majority of MPs no longer feel it necessary to honour their manifesto commitments. Once inside the Westminster bubble, they think they can behave as they like, and to blazes with the people who pay their wages.
This isn’t representative government, it’s revolution. Parliament has rebelled against the people.
And for what? They’ve taken back control so they can sub-contract it out to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
Whatever happens now, our democracy is broken. Like Humpty Dumpty, it’s going to be a hell of a job to put it back together again.
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