Take courage, Brex­i­teers, as you go into bat­tle…

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor - CHARLES MOORE NOTE­BOOK

Many of our read­ers will du­ti­fully have stud­ied the nu­mer­ous ar­ti­cles that have ap­peared in this and other me­dia about Brexit. I ad­mit to hav­ing con­trib­uted more than my fair share of them. But now that the vote on Theresa May’s deal is truly upon us (un­less she sud­denly post­pones it again), I feel it is rather late in the day for long, thought­ful ar­gu­ment. Here, in­stead, is a se­ries of short points to en­cour­age the troops as they go into bat­tle:

At the week­end, Mrs May’s team put out the story that “a very British coup” was in prospect. MPS try­ing to pre­vent Brexit were con­spir­ing to seize con­trol of par­lia­men­tary busi­ness from the Gov­ern­ment, they briefed. They are say­ing this to frighten wa­ver­ing Leavers into back­ing Mrs May’s deal to­mor­row. It is not an ef­fec­tive threat, be­cause Mrs May’s deal it­self pre­vents Brexit in all but name. We are in an odd po­si­tion in which roughly four fifths of a Par­lia­ment that voted through the leg­is­la­tion to with­draw from the Euro­pean Union is ac­tu­ally try­ing to stop it.

The fact that Mrs May’s aides are cry­ing wolf does not mean that there are no wolves. It would seem the wolves are in sheep’s cloth­ing – the ex­trem­ist mod­er­ates, led by Greg Clark, Chukka Umunna, Oliver Letwin, Yvette Cooper, Hi­lary Benn, Nicky Mor­gan and Do­minic Grieve. Such peo­ple are dan­ger­ous and des­per­ate. Po­lice have is­sued a warn­ing to the pub­lic not to ap­proach them.

Mr Speaker Ber­cow’s motto on his coat of arms says “All Are Equal”, which is a strange claim when only a tiny pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion is per­mit­ted a coat of arms. When de­cid­ing last week – ar­bi­trar­ily, and against the ad­vice of his clerks – to change the rules of the House so that a busi­ness mo­tion could be amend­able, Mr Ber­cow spoke mov­ingly of “the firm and con­tin­u­ing con­vic­tion that I am right”. That is his real motto.

If John Ber­cow suc­ceeds, and the Gov­ern­ment can no longer man­age the busi­ness of Par­lia­ment, the British sys­tem by which we are gov­erned through Par­lia­ment will col­lapse. This will be pre­sented by some as a vic­tory for the rights of MPS, but it looks more like the Di­vine Right of Ber­cows.

There is one other point to be made to the poor, out­num­bered Leavers in Par­lia­ment, buoyed up only by the sup­port of roughly 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple. You are in a game of bluff which is only re­ally be­gin­ning now. Your op­po­nents will try to scare you with claims of over­whelm­ing force. Wait un­til you see the whites of their eyes.

I rec­om­mend a tweeter who goes by the name of Ti­ta­nia Mc­grath (“Ac­tivist. Healer. Rad­i­cal in­ter­sec­tion­al­ist poet”), but is in fact a great satirist. Her main tech­nique is to ap­pear to agree with a po­lit­i­cally cor­rect propo­si­tion as she points out the ab­sur­dity of its logic. Last week, when the most fa­nat­i­cal of all mod­er­ates, Lord Ado­nis, praised Mr Speaker for his “bril­liant job” stand­ing up for the Com­mons “against a gov­ern­ment try­ing to un­der­mine Par­lia­ment”, Ti­ta­nia tweeted: “Thank you, Lord Ado­nis! For the sake of democ­racy, Par­lia­ment ur­gently needs to take back con­trol from the elec­torate.”

These are very se­ri­ous times, of course, but here are a few things that never fail to make me laugh:

Lord Man­del­son up­hold­ing the demo­cratic rights of the British peo­ple to vote the right way over Brexit.

Sir John Ma­jor writ­ing that: “Any gov­ern­ment should think very care­fully be­fore forc­ing through a vote that has few real sup­port­ers within Par­lia­ment, wide­spread op­po­si­tion from with­out, and one that would leave the coun­try vul­ner­a­ble to de­ci­sions made by oth­ers.” That is an ex­act de­scrip­tion of the Maas­tricht votes, forced through in the early Nineties by one John Ma­jor.

The pro-re­main chap with the ring­mas­ter’s top hat who ap­pears in ev­ery tele­vi­sion news item. I hope the BBC is pay­ing him.

My friend Nick Boles threat­en­ing to lay down his po­lit­i­cal life for the Nor­way op­tion, seem­ingly on the Be­yond the Fringe prin­ci­ple that “we need a fu­tile ges­ture at this stage”.

Sir Ni­cholas Soames. As he an­nounces his re­tire­ment, Andy Mur­ray has been widely praised for per­suad­ing the Scots to emote in pub­lic. Why? The rea­son to ad­mire Mur­ray is that he is a great ten­nis player, not that he has given his fel­low coun­try­men per­mis­sion to blub on screen. Nowa­days, ev­ery news bul­letin is tear-stained; ev­ery griev­ance is pre­sented as heart­break; ev­ery sports star, un­less over the moon, is sick as a par­rot. It is both bor­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tive.

Speak­ing as a non-scot, I think I can say with­out bias that the lack of pub­lic emo­tion has been part of Scots’ suc­cess all over the world, which has been in dis­pro­por­tion to their small num­bers. What we non-scots ad­mire so much are those virtues that are some­times dis­missed as “dour” – per­sis­tence, pro­bity, stiff-necked courage, dry hu­mour – the qual­i­ties of a na­tion that pro­duces gran­ite, not olive oil.

We all know, of course, that un­der the se­vere Scot­tish ex­te­rior of­ten lurks a pas­sion­ate na­ture, but it is more ro­man­tic be­cause it is largely hid­den. The bag­pipes make oth­ers weep, but only if the piper re­tains his self-dis­ci­pline as he plays.

Once the Scots start to break down in front of us, the more self-pity­ing as­pects of Celtic cul­ture start to come to the fore, which is enough to make you cry out loud.

READ MORE at tele­graph.co.uk/opin­ion

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