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Brexit was always going to be that cliché of university examination papers, “a watershed in history”. From the moment the referendum result was declared, Brexit was generally recognized as the most important event in British history since 1945. During the 19 months since the referendum, however, illegitimate interventions by a variety of interested parties bent on obstructing the democratic process have dramatically widened the issue. The political conflict is now about much more than Brexit: it is about the fundamental liberty of the British people and the relationship between the political class and those it governs, so that the nominal Brexit crisis now threatens to trigger the most important event in British history since 1688.
On 23 June 2016 Britain voted to leave the European Union. With 17.4 million people voting for Brexit, this was the largest public support ever registered in British history for any course of action. Chamberlain had a lesser mandate for declaring war on Germany. Unlike a general election, with a mélange of policies jumbled in rag-bag manifestoes, it was a national decision on a single issue. Nobody voted for a so-called “soft” Brexit – the term had not gained currency when the suffrages were cast. The nation voted to leave the EU.
In doing so, the British people defied the elites who were horrified to see their grip on unaccountable power slipping. After their initial stupefaction, they quickly launched a ferocious campaign, deploying all their considerable resources, to frustrate the will of the electorate. The untutored public had fallen into the error of making a decision unsanctioned by the establishment, thus departing from democracy, as defined by the ruling oligarchy, and descending into “populism”. The counter-offensive was swift and conducted on many fronts.
The Conservative Party elected a Remainer as its new leader and she appointed uber-Remainer Philip Hammond to the most important Cabinet position, as Chancellor. Other prominent Old Believers such as Amber Rudd occupy Cabinet posts. What happened to the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility? Under the disingenuous mantra of “respecting” the 48 per cent of Remain voters the Cabinet was transformed from a vehicle of government into a disorderly student debating society.
Following any general election that produces a government with an overall majority, how many Cabinet posts are customarily allocated by the new administration to its defeated opponents? It is even more indefensible, when a massive plebiscite has mandated policy on a single issue, to award senior Cabinet posts to vociferous opponents of that policy. Opponents of Government policy have always been required to resign from Cabinet under the collective responsibility doctrine.
From that dysfunctional base, the unravelling of Brexit proceeded apace. Firstly, the Remain-minded Government elected, quite unnecessarily, to leave the EU via Article 50, the obstacle course devised by Lord Kerr of Kinlochard to obstruct, debilitate and punish any country that might have the effrontery to attempt to escape from the Brussels gulag. In a recent piece here on Reaction, Iain Martin gave a chilling insight into the mentality of Lord Kerr and his prediction that Britain would “come to heel” for the EU.
It is not strictly correct to term it a prediction, since the British establishment has spent the 19 months since the Brexit vote coming to heel at Brussels’ behest. The plutocracy was mobilized to bring judicial activism into play to give Parliament additional opportunities to hobble Brexit. The EU, from the first, treated Britain as some kind of inferior reprobate against whom it had endless claims. It suddenly emerged that the United Kingdom, a net donor to the EU for 44 years, “owed” Brussels around €100bn. This claim was initially greeted with outrage even by some Remainers, but conceded by our supine government and negotiators by an osmotic process whereby £40bn is already on promise to Brussels; be sure it will not stop there. Similarly, the “transition” period to avoid a so-called “cliff edge” was magicked out of the blue, provoked incredulity, and is now accepted policy.
To every imperious demand and accompanying insults our rulers’ response is to tug the forelock and submit. The problem is not just that Brexit negotiations are dragging – they have gone into reverse. Membership of the Single Market and Customs Union was formally ruled out a year ago, now it is back on the table, treated almost as a given by many Remainers. To be in the Single Market is to be in the European Union. Membership is being presented as a pearl of great price: the reality is that exports of goods of the 12 founder nations of the Single Market have been 14.6 per cent lower than they would have been had they continued to grow at the same rate as in pre-Single Market days and UK exports to the other founder members have been 22.3 per cent lower.
So the fabrication and fantasy go on: a return to civil war in Ireland if real Brexit goes ahead, dire warnings from the CBI (the people who forecast the end of civilization as we knew it if we failed to join the euro currency) and, leading the banshee shrieks of “We’re a’ doomed”, Her Majesty’s Treasury.
The Chancellor promised the globalists at Davos there would be only “very modest” changes in Britain’s relationship with the EU. In the same week Treasury officials were conceding that the previously fiddled figures, produced as part of Project Fear on the eve of the referendum and now hilariously discredited, were no longer applicable. New fiddled figures have been produced to discredit Brexit.
Just as criticism of pro-Brexit judges was condemned as “disgraceful”, denunciation of civil servants has triggered the usual pompous pieties about “our dedicated, completely neutral civil service” from the usual suspects. Cue out-to-grass mandarin at lunch: “Do you realize, in Victorian times, just 42 men governed five trillion Indians – all Wykehamists, of course (the officials, not the Indians)…” Zzzz… To anyone with any experience of the civil service machinery for frustrating government such cant is beyond ludicrous.
If you believe the mandarins are neutral on Brexit, one wonders what your position is on the existence of Santa Claus question. The whole Venetian Oligarchy, as Disraeli called the establishment that has ruled Britain since 1688, has worked to defeat Brexit. All of our institutions are compromised to the point of irrelevance. Recently Paul Marshall, chairman of hedge fund Marshall Wace, said of the Bank of England: “It has now come to embody anti-Brexit bias to such a degree that it endangers its credibility as an institution.”
Our supposed leaders have surrendered to Brussels because they want to surrender: the collective establishment mindset is irredeemably Remainer. Brexit has been walked back to the point where it seems likely 29 March, 2019 will be the date when we resume full membership of and contributions to the EU, but without voting rights.
The explosion of public anger that would provoke, and its consequences, are incalculable. Voters gave clear instructions to their government. If that government cannot or will not deliver and neither will the opposition, the current system is not fit for purpose.
MPs recently voted to vacate the Palace of Westminster during refurbishment around 2025. If they do not deliver a clean Brexit they may be leaving rather earlier than that and on a permanent basis.