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When all else fails,
25 Mar, 2019

try democracy

Charles Parselle writes that more than a million people in the streets and five million signatures and growing on a petition are the clearest indications that democracy in Britain is boisterously alive and kicking energetically, demanding to be heard. The British people have spoken in huge numbers and Parliament must take heed.

 

"Now all the youth of England are on fire/And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies"

 

March 23, 2019: A million people in the streets, and that was just in London. Four million signatures on the Petition to Remain. A vast array of signs: ‘I’ve Seen Smarter Cabinets in Ikea’. ‘Fromage not Farage’. ‘Don’t Eurinate On Our Future’. ‘We Shall Not Be (Rees) MOGG’ED’. A black terrier with: ‘This is a Dog’s Brexit’. ‘I Will Never Leave EU’. And so on, a nearly endless array of smiling people come together with serious intent.

 

A wretch concentred all in self

"One would have thought beyond a doubt/That was the very end of the bout/But that the creature would not die"

After the PM’s last visit to the EU, opinions were delivered that could hardly have been spoken at any time in the past several hundred years.

One EU source described her meeting with European leaders: “It was 90 minutes of nothing. She didn't even give clarity if she is organizing a vote. Asked three times what she would do if she lost the vote, she couldn't say. It was awful. Dreadful. Evasive. Even by her standards.”

The President of Luxembourg said it was like waiting for Godot [and] ….Godot never arrives. The German Chancellor: “This is really serious.” The French President downgraded the chances of Parliament passing May’s deal from 10% to 5%, to which the EU President replied “You are very optimistic.” Another leader said that Britain needs to be taken care of “like a patient,” and the Hungarian President: “This is pretty grim…(and) the only thing Conservative party leaders care about is the Conservative party."

Our British commentators are apoplectic, reaching for metaphors, similes, anything to express their appalled vexation. Perhaps this PM has been the perfect person to lead us in the crisis of our national psychotic breakdown, our very own Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, which movie coincidentally was released about the time we joined the EEC. Time may heal, but she can do little now to salvage her reputation, other than revoke Article 50 or at a minimum call another People’s Vote, even so the verdict is likely to remain: “….unwept, unhonoured and unsung.”

 

Meet the man who wasn't there

A Tory leader who will not step down vs. a Labour leader who will not show up. Jeremy Corbyn turns out to be a near perfect metaphor for EXIT, whose entire career has been one of sustained exit from his own party, a man to whom the party whip has meant nothing. Unable to lead, refusing to step down, his performance on Brexit has been ducking, weaving, extemporizing, evading, sidestepping and hair-splitting. Labour deserves better, and fortunately for the country it has better, as Labour frontbenchers, MPs and supporters in huge numbers showed up to march in solidarity.  

 

The EU fills the vacuum created by Parliament

"Things fall apart/The centre cannot hold/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world" because Parliament refused the opportunity presented to it to take back control of the process, rejected another referendum, backed away from cooperation or coalition in favour of party political advantage.

Every section of British society, every institution has either been ignored or has proved unequal to the task. Parliament, despite a number of outstanding people, has been clearly not up to the job. The clear wishes of the Scots and Northern Irish voters have been ignored and their input rejected. The interests of the North have been ignored and London too. Parliamentary discipline has gone to the winds. The devolved governments have been allowed no voice. The people of not been consulted, but on the contrary have been insulted. The old conventions governing the conduct of politicians have been trashed. The Fixed Term Parliaments act of 2011 has shown itself to have consequences that were not foreseen, such that a government can lose multiple votes by extraordinary numbers on matters central to their platform but without consequence.

Thus finally the EU has stepped in to take control with an elegant solution. It rejected the PM’s request for an extension until 30 June, and instead imposed a strict timetable but with all options open. The British are free to choose, but not free to dither. EU Council president, Donald Tusk, said: "What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff edge will be delayed. The UK government will still have a choice of a deal, no deal, a long extension or revoking article 50.”

This is what we have been reduced to. Now calls are being made for a public inquiry into the whole Brexit mess, to uncover the depth of the lies, media manipulation, financial crimes and chicanery that have marred the past three years. And now finally Parliament must rise above party calculation and understand that only a long extension will give the British people, Leavers as well as Remainers, old and young alike, the opportunity to come to grips with the whole range of forces that have bubbled to the surface of our national consciousness these part three years.

 

 

The London4Europe blogs page is edited by Nick Hopkinson Vice-Chair. Articles on this page reflect the views of the author, not necessarily of London4Europe.