How this cynical plot threatens democracy
DRUNK on delusions of their own grandeur, a coterie of backbench MPs conspires to overthrow the legitimate government and seize the levers of power.
No, this is not happening in some failed banana republic or corrupt Third World dictatorship, but here in Britain – the Mother of Parliaments.
Being Westminster, naturally the leaders of this coup attempt wear grey suits rather than combat fatigues. And their weapons are not tanks and guns but arcane procedural motions.
But their ambition is the same as any such insurgents – to wrest control.
We are talking of course about the bid by Remain-supporting MPs to force through changes to key Commons procedures that have lasted more than 130 years.
It would mean motions submitted by backbenchers would take precedence over Government business – and it’s a recipe for anarchy. In a House where there is no majority for anything – Brexit-related or otherwise – how could this loose affiliation of backbenchers even presume to lead the country?
Even if they had the means to govern, they certainly don’t have the talent or experience – most being failed ministers, or serial attention-seekers, or both.
True, Brexit was about returning Parliamentary sovereignty from Brussels to Westminster. But not so it could be handed to a self-appointed clique, whose main aim is to thwart the explicit will of the people.
Yet they plough on regardless with their hubristic grand plan, encouraged by a partisan and ridiculously vain Speaker. The last thing on any of their minds seems to be the national interest.
And some of their pious attempts at selfjustification are truly risible.
Tory Nick Boles (who, under David Cameron, rose to the dizzy heights of junior business minister) was typical. How could this be a coup, he asked, when those taking part were ‘democratically elected MPs’?
Well yes, they were democratically elected – but on the platform of taking Britain out of the EU. Scheming to sabotage Brexit now could hardly be more undemocratic.
Perhaps we should remind the plotters of some hard facts. Just 18 months ago, 85 per cent of the general election vote went to parties whose manifestos pledged to uphold the referendum.
By that time MPs had already triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – formal notice of our intention to leave – by a huge 498-114 majority, and both main party leaders said they would take Britain out of the single market and customs union.
So what possible moral authority could there be in any government, or pseudo-government, which seeks to overturn these promises? Answer: none. It’s nothing less than a fraud against the voting public. Democracy is supposed to be the government by the people, for the people – not by MPs, for MPs.
There is, however, a solution to the looming shambles. One proposal on the table would honour the referendum without propelling us to the economic chaos of no-deal. That is Theresa May’s deal (now supported by a comfortable majority of Conservative voters).
Sadly, all the signs are that it will be heavily defeated in the Commons tomorrow. But if the margin of defeat is not too catastrophic, there is still a chance that a version of the deal – if bolstered by more concrete reassurances from Brussels on the Northern Irish backstop – could eventually succeed.
If it doesn’t, we are indeed in uncharted waters – with jagged reefs on every side. MPs must ask themselves if they would prefer to navigate such treacherous seas under the captaincy of Mrs May – or a divided Commons that appears to have lost its compass.