By Jonathan Reed
Video supplied by Bloomberg Politics©
‘Brexit means Brexit’, ‘no deal is better than a bad deal.’ Remember the time when politics was this simple? Remember the time when Brexit almost happened in the way 17.4 million people hoped it would? Remember the time when those who voted ‘Leave’ believed that Brexit would most certainly happen? They were simpler times, weren’t they?
But fast-forward over two years of “negotiations”. Two years of Theresa May flying back and forth from Brussels. Two failed attempts to drag her hated Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons, and here we are, forcibly staring at 800 years of British democracy unravelling before our eyes. Who would have thought it? Theresa May, that’s who.
Hindsight is a useful tool, but by nature it is designed to humiliate you on how wrong you ultimately were. And good god were Leavers wrong to trust a Prime Minister who backed the Remain campaign in the referendum of 2016, believing that she would deliver Brexit. Ultimately, she never planned on doing so. Why? Her heart wasn’t in it. It still isn’t.
Over the past few weeks, the British people have had to endure the humiliating circus of a Government and Parliament, which is blatantly scuppering the biggest act of democracy in our country’s history. You can’t even watch it through your fingertips, because Remain or Leave, there is something utterly earth shattering about the state of our Nation’s political class. It no longer matters what the electorate votes for. Our voice always did and always will play second fiddle to those in power. And that goes for both Leave and Remain voters.
Many will be looking at the result of the Indicative votes, including the Letwin Amendment which snatches control of Brexit from Theresa May’s clutches, and instead hands it to Parliament. Some will think this could lead to a “No Deal”, others will conclude Brexit will never even happen. I don’t think anyone can conclusively state which route Britain will take, but the fallout will be inevitably calamitous.
But, looking beyond Brexit, both sides should stare at the chaotic monstrosity that has ensued in the past weeks with deep concern. If Brexit is in fact cancelled, whether through a second referendum or revoking Article 50, what’s to stop MPs doing the same to similar democratic decisions in the future? If the political system can abuse democracy in such a shameful and destructive way, how can trust return to the Houses of Parliament?
The latter question is the most important and raises the issue with which has plagued British politics long before Brexit was a whisper on David Cameron’s (remember him?) lips. Trust is indicative to the stable structure of democracy. When that leaves, so does everything else. Without trust, the British public have no interest in Politics. Yet, something potentially emerged to break that stagnated relationship.
So many members of the public voted in the 2016 referendum with the belief that the result would be implemented. They felt, wholeheartedly, that politicians would keep their word and lead Britain out of the EU. They trusted them. They trusted Theresa May. But no, at every turn the Prime Minister’s actions have been worlds away from her words. “Brexit means Brexit” has mutated to, “Brexit mean’s an awful withdrawal agreement”. “No deal is better than a bad deal” is now “no deal isn’t better than anything, and we must avoid it all costs!” And this fluid nature of saying one thing to Leavers, and then a completely different thing to Remainers, has now run its course.
The British people have had enough of a Prime Minister who has, well and truly, lost all control. Her authority is shot, and no-one seems to really care what she has to say. Her Cabinet are all but in open warfare with her. Her party want her gone. The people she was elected to lead don’t trust her. She is walking, blinded by a level of stubbornness and desperation which only highlights her Prime Ministerial weakness.
Theresa May is a Prime Minster who twice has failed to force her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament. Any other leader would have resigned then and there, but not Mrs May. No, here she comes again, still trying to push her deal on the public, and in doing so she has lost all control of Brexit altogether.
So, what happens now? Where does the country go from here? The honest answer, one I doubt we will hear from any politician, is god knows. Will we leave with a No Deal? Not if Parliament have anything to say about it – and now they do. Will we revoke Article 50? Not if politicians wish to keep the fraction of trust which is feebly still beating. Second referendum? Again, would politicians really dare tread into the arena of “betraying” the Electorate. The truth is; there is not one outcome which could command a majority in Parliament. Out here amongst the people, however, there is.
With Mrs May’s shambolic negotiating skills, which are less “this lady’s not for turning”, and more “this lady’s in a spin”, many Leaver’s are more than happy to exit the EU with a ‘no deal’ option. And with that infamous ‘trust’ gone, they aren’t bothering to listen to doom filled rants of those who got their “predictions” so wrong the first time around. No deal is the option which many Leave voters believe would respect the referendum result.
But sadly, I can’t help but feel that that is now nothing more than a pipe-dream. And I worry for the fallout which will most certainly follow.
Whichever way Brexit goes – or doesn’t – one thing can be certain. Theresa May cannot and should not lead this country through the latter stages of the Brexit process. She hasn’t earnt the right to. Instead she has usurped the British people and buried her head, not in sand, but European cement, painted blue with yellow stars. She is ultimately a Remainer who will eventually stay true to her word, remain in the EU.
Unfortunately, Brexit never meant Brexit and ‘no deal’ was never even on the cards. I would’ve respected Mrs May more if she had just admitted to that in the first place. But instead she sauntered in her kitten heels as a Remainer in Brexiteer clothing. In doing so, she has caused mayhem and irreparable damage to one of the oldest democratic processes in the world.
Remember that time when we almost had Brexit? Yeah, me neither.