If You Want Brexit, Then Elect Pro-Brexit MPs

December 29, 2016

 

The result of the EU referendum on 23rd June was a great encouragement to those of us who have long supported the restoration of our national sovereignty. The decisive vote to leave the European Union sent shockwaves throughout the political class and exposed just how out of touch they are with the very people who elected them.  The political and media establishment always seemed to believe that there would be a comfortable Remain victory and that if there was to be an upset, then it would be driven entirely by voters in England. This made it all the more uplifting to see Wales join England in voting decisively to leave. Even in Scotland, where the Leave campaign was almost non-existent and where some unionists led a very misguided tactical voting campaign for Remain, almost two out of five voters voted to leave the EU.

 

Regional dynamics aside, the class factor was for the political elite the most surprising and condemning aspect of the vote. The Leave vote was spearheaded not, as they predicted, from the leafy suburbs of Southern England, but from the working-class Labour heartlands of Northern England and Wales. It is, after all, the working-class who have been the victims of globalisation, mass immigration, the destruction of national industry in the pursuit of unrestricted free trade, and all that the EU represents. By contrast cosmopolitan, affluent London was the only sizeable area in England to vote Remain. Anybody who votes for the SNP as a protest party or who considers them an alternative to the political establishment should ask themselves why Sturgeon and their leadership so enthusiastically sided (and continue to side) with the City of London and against the working-class of Wales and England. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that almost one-third of SNP voters rebelled against the party line and voted Leave, a figure only slightly lower than the overall Leave vote in Scotland.

 

As encouraging, then, as the referendum result was, we cannot escape the fact that it has left the political class entirely unscathed. Other than the token changeover from Cameron to May, not a single seat has changed hands at the national, devolved or even local level. The public, we are told, have just brought about a complete U-turn in major policy, a revolutionary change in our national politics; and yet bizarrely, it is the champions of the old idea, those who so strongly resisted and campaigned against this change, that we are now told we can trust to bring it about.

 

And this was always going to be the problem with attempting to bring about Brexit through a referendum. It was also why the political class allowed the referendum to happen, indeed endorsed it in their very manifestos: to deflect the issue from a General Election where they would risk losing their seat and their paycheck over it. The 479 out of 650 MPs who supported the Remain campaign found themselves on the wrong side of public opinion and yet continue to sit happily in the House of Commons to represent people they know that they do not, in reality, represent. What then have we actually won through the EU referendum? We have won a supposed Brexit negotiated by Remain campaigner and Europhile Theresa May.

 

Little wonder that she doesn’t seem to be doing very much to bring about our exit from the European Union; what little she does she takes a long time to do and she does so without seeming to have any coherent plan for what she will attempt to negotiate or who will be included in the negotiations. After multiple delays, including an original promise that Article 50 would be triggered the day after the referendum, May has chosen March 2017 to begin the formal Brexit process. Parliament may or may not get a say, the devolved administrations may or may not get a say; all this will be decided by the Supreme Court, a Blairite invention created in 2009 to bring about an American-style separation of powers and to remove what were previously the Law Lords from any sort of accountability to our prime democratic institution: parliament. May’s original plan to trigger Article 50 without the consent of parliament has already, and rightfully, been shut down.

 

Amidst this confusion, it is no surprise that Theresa May hasn’t formulated any sort of plan for how or when we will leave the European Union.  Apart from meaningless statements about a “red, white and blue Brexit” or how “Brexit means Brexit”, nobody really knows what is going to happen. What little she has hinted at so far does not look promising and falls far short of the expectations of the 52% of the electorate who voted to leave. Who, for example, voted to leave in the expectation that we would then pay to stay in the Single Market as her Brexit Secretary David Davis suggested, a possibility May continues to consider? [1] Did Scottish Leave voters vote to have powers over immigration handed over to the SNP at Holyrood as Michael Gove has proposed, [2] or for any of the plethora of powers regained from the EU to go to Holyrood as David Mundell has stated they will? [3]

 

The Scottish Conservatives cannot even agree with their national-level party on the issue, and May’s underling Ruth Davidson has been so obstructive on the issue of leaving the European Union that she joined Sturgeon in calling for Scotland to be kept in the Single Market following the Brexit vote. [4] Davidson did, after all, campaign smiling shoulder-to-shoulder with Sturgeon for the Remain campaign. Davidson’s repeated endorsement of Holyrood’s right to call a second independence referendum following the EU vote has only worsened the constitutional uncertainty that continues to plague Scotland in particular. [5]

 

There is still a danger that we may not leave the EU at all. While the crisis engulfing the EU may seem to strengthen the case for Brexit, it can also endanger it. In light of recent terrorist attacks and the ongoing refugee crisis, the major figures in Europe finally seem to have been forced into accepting the need for border controls between member states. If they were to do this, is it entirely impossible that Theresa May may claim that in regaining control over our borders we would achieve the chief aim of the Brexit vote, and happily (to her mind) while remaining in a reformed EU? No arrangement within the EU would, of course, ever actually give us full control over our borders, but such a development may be enough to sow the idea that we have into the public imagination. If this quite plausible situation did come to pass and placate the softer Brexit votes, is seems quite probable that this would be a very easy get-out clause for our overwhelmingly pro-EU parliament, cabinet and indeed Prime Minister who have been entrusted with Brexit through the referendum process.

 

The reason why we have this uncertainty, and why we don’t know when or how (or even if) Brexit will happen, is because the whole issue was reduced to a completely inadequate binary choice in the referendum. The political class deliberately allowed voters to state only whether they wanted to leave or stay in the EU. They deliberately did not ask about the Single Market. They deliberately did not ask when we should leave by. They deliberately did not ask who should manage the negotiations. And they deliberately did not ask where the powers should go following Brexit: to our national UK parliament or to the devolved administrations. And the referendum allowed them to dodge all these serious questions which they would, had they stuck to our laws and our democratic traditions of parliamentary democracy, ordinarily have had to place in a manifesto and gain election upon. After all, you have to ask yourself why an overwhelmingly pro-EU political class would allow a referendum on leaving the EU to take place.

 

The referendum was always a short-cut, it could only ever win a quick-fix, bargain bin Brexit. The idea of a referendum sounded nice and trendy and it was an easy sell to the public. Our reward will be a nominal Brexit led by the very people who opposed it, a Brexit in name only where we stop sending MEPs to Brussels and Strasbourg while remaining in the Single Market, or at least the bulk of its mechanisms, and possibly have the UK further broken up through more careless devolution in the process.

 

The Unionist Party believes that our British traditions of representative democracy are infinitely superior to referendums. There’s a reason why the ordinary person, especially the ordinary Scot, is scunnered with them, while our politicians seem to love them and refuse to rule the possibility of more out. We are totally opposed to any more referendums, and believe that it is only by electing pro-Brexit MPs that we will truly leave the European Union and all its mechanisms, and not by entrusting the matter to pro-EU politicians.

 

It is only by electing pro-Brexit MPs at a General Election that we can bring about a parliament with the will and a serious, coherent plan to restore our national sovereignty and regain control over our trade and our borders. And this should be done not by triggering Article 50 and negotiating on the EU’s terms, but by the repeal by parliament of the European Communities Act 1972. Then, and only then, will we truly and fully leave the European Union on our terms.

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38168942; see also https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/19/theresa-may-declines-to-rule-out-paying-eu-for-single-market-access-brexit

[2] https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/politics/scottish-politics/335001/exclusive-snp-open-working-michael-gove-immigration-plans/

[3]http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14797212.Brexit_could_lead_to_more_powers_being_devolved_to_Holyrood__Scottish_Secretary_hints/

[4] http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/687496/ruth-davidson-theresa-may-single-market

[5] https://stv.tv/news/politics/1368857-davidson-there-should-not-be-a-blanket-refusal-to-indyref2/; see also our article on Conservative support for Holyrood’s right to call IndyRef2 at http://www.abbup.org/single-post/2016/11/02/A-Wake-Up-Call-to-Unionism

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