Oliver has seized control of Parliament – it’s déjà-vu all over again. More accurately, since the new Lord Protector is Sir Oliver Letwin, this coup lends credence to the claim by Karl Marx that history repeats itself “first as tragedy, then as farce”. Letwin is so important to his party that when a general election is imminent he has to be rushed into hiding (he certainly will need to be, at the next election).
Letwin was designed by nature to play the Mad Hatter in pantomime, otherwise he has no discernible talents. His penchant for depositing government documents in litter bins in St James’s Park, a vaguely Carry On Le Carré episode, says it all. What he is not short on – like 600 more of his colleagues – is a misplaced self-esteem and a monumental sense of entitlement. The Palace of Westminster is a narcissists’ colony into which the light of reality has never intruded.
That is dramatically illustrated by the spectacle of the House of Commons, within 48 hours of the EU departure date set by MPs themselves, holding its own Brexit referendum. Voting on green paper slips, MPs tried to construct a Heath-Robinson Brexit through a multiple choice exercise resembling an examination in our dumbed-down education system.
Into this casserole they threw every leftover ingredient that took their fancy. Nick Boles, an MP disowned by his own constituency association, contributed “Common Market 2.0”, a potpourri of EFTA, EEA, membership of the Single Market and effectively of the Customs Union. Ken Clarke, President Tusk’s vicar on British soil, demanded a “permanent and effective” customs union, supported by the Lord Protector Letwin himself, Yvette Cooper and Hilary Benn.
Alternatively (“Like to see somefink stronger, guv?”) revocation of Article 50 “to avoid no deal” was touted by Dominic Grieve, Sir Vince Cable and luminaries of similar calibre, complemented by Dame Margaret Beckett’s “confirmatory public vote”.
All of this pompous, self-regarding nonsense had one sole objective: to wreck Brexit and deny the British electorate the implementation of the straightforward policy, complete departure from the EU, mandated by 17.4 million voters. As with the first Oliver, the House of Commons has renounced democracy. Every recent utterance by MPs confirms that revolution.
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The Pravda-style arithmetic whereby the demands of 400,000 people (not one million, though the higher figure would be equally irrelevant) parading their Europhile prejudices on the March Against Democracy somehow trump 17.4 million formal ballot papers demonstrates the dishonesty of the elites.
Amid all the hot air spouted in the Commons about the seeming impossibility of securing a majority for any course of action “in this House”, no thought was given to the clear majority outside the House for a very simple course of action: leave the EU on Friday. Theresa May promised that would happen 108 times in Parliament. She could have repaired her abysmal conduct over the past two years by proroguing the chamber full of fighting stoats and departing the EU on Friday.
Instead, she has earned undying infamy down through future history. So have the “honourable members” on the green benches, for whom the public now feels unprecedented loathing and contempt. The will of the public during Commons deliberations on Brexit was not even the elephant in the room: the elephant was outside the chamber. There is now a hierarchy of ballot papers: plain white, recording the comical aspirations of 17.4 million proles, and green for the Entitled Ones, the only voters who matter and whose will must be deferred to.
How do those somnambulists imagine the British public will react to the trashing of its democratically expressed mandate? With a collective tug of the forelock? “Oh, Sir Oliver, thank you for correcting my untutored vote, I fear I was in danger of forgetting my place. Thank you, sir – you’re a toff!” The only remotely rational explanation of MPs’ kamikaze behaviour would be if they also intend to abolish elections, so that they need never encounter the electorate again.
It is to be hoped that somewhere in Britain there is a Madame Defarge implacably knitting the names from division lobbies into a record of the enemies of the people. The loss of courage by the ERG (Rees-Mogg may have broken cover prematurely and pointlessly, if Speaker Bercw’s latest rodomontade rules out a third meaningful vote) demonstrates how far even they have absorbed the Westminster-centric atmosphere of delusory power.
“Brexit may not happen?” How can it not happen when the British electorate has voted for it? That same electorate is the sole foundation for each and every MP’s presence in the Commons. Betrayal on this scale demands a total clean-out of that discredited assembly. Every Remainer who has ratted on the manifesto promises that got him elected must be voted out.
Here is a classic example of one such weasel, speaking on Newsnight two years ago: “It’s pretty clear actually what the outlines are. We’re leaving. We’re leaving the Single Market, we’re leaving the Customs Union, and we’re going to have control over our own migration. If you want that, it implies leaving the Single Market, we’re going to be able to negotiate our own free trade deal with the rest of the world; if you want that you should leave the Customs Union. So, that’s all pretty clear.” Sir Oliver Letwin – for it was he – appears to have changed his views since securing re-election by the mug punters.
The British public will not take this lying down. The betrayal is too specific, too public, too deep and too shameless to be permitted. This time the whole constitution is being shredded by a parliament that has lost its legitimacy. The government and legislature, before our eyes, are degenerating into a regime. At one hour to midnight on Friday, the moment of the worst betrayal in British history will also mark the end of governance by consent in this country.