There is a big part of me that hopes to never hear the word Brexit again. Like many across the country, whether dyed-in-the-wool remainers, dyed-in-the-wool leavers, or those somewhere in between, the word has come to fill me with a deep sense of boredom, an unhappy feeling of nausea, and also the unnerving foreboding that whatever happens in the next few months, it is quite likely to lead to some sort of civil disorder.
The situation in Parliament is as utterly extraordinary as it is dire.
A minority Government that says it doesn’t really want an election, calling for one. An opposition majority that has constantly called for an election, refusing to grant permission to hold one.
The very idea that a Government should need the consent of the opposition to hold an election is itself quite mad. The very idea that a Prime Minister should be unable to go to the Monarch at a time of his or her choosing, to request the dissolution of Parliament, is plainly nuts. Yet it is just another of those rotten legacies left to us by David Cameron — Wrecker of Libya, and the man who cynically added the promise of a referendum to the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto to prevent the party haemorrhaging votes the United Kingdom Independence Party. Together with his then partner-in-crime, Nicholas Clegg, he brought in the Fixed Term Parliament Act in 2011, which fixes the lifetime of each Parliament to five years, unless two-thirds of Parliament agree to its dissolution. I recall telling a friend all those years ago that this was ludicrous, and also a potentially dangerous piece of legislation. However, I could not have guessed how it would come back to bite us, as it now surely has.
Even though there are no doubt a few honourable individual exceptions, I am left utterly appalled by all parties in Parliament, with each one exhibitting their own particular flavour of cynicism and duplicitousness.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Let’s start with de Pfeffel and his Conservative Party. As a Burkean conservative, I already had an intense loathing for this party, which despite the name, has failed to stand up for pretty much every “small c” conservative cause during my lifetime. But I am doubly appalled by the way Johnson, at the behest of his Rottweilers, Dominic Cummings and Gavin Williamson, has attempted to sledgehammer his way through all opposition. It’s quite obvious that these arrogant numbskulls gambled on the following scenario and lost:
Prorogue Parliament in order to create a huge stink and calls for an election;
Allow the opposition to bring about a bill to stop a no-deal Brexit;
Threaten rebels with expulsion from the party;
Use the ensuing chaos to call an election, which the Labour Party - which has constantly called for an election for two years - cannot refuse, but which they would subsequently lose.
I’m sure it sounded like a brilliant scheme, except that it contained the sort of miscalculation that is common to such high and lofty types. That is, they completely failed to factor in the possibility that other people might not act in the way they game-planned them to act. And so the rebellion in the Tory Party was much bigger than expected, with the consequence that the subsequent withdrawal of the whip felt more like the purge of a tinpot despot, than the quiet shuffling off of one or two rebels. And then the Labour Party did a volte face, throwing a huge spanner in the works by refusing to grant Mr Johnson his election, with the mad Fixed Term Parliament Act giving them the ability to do so.
Joining them on the podium of contempt is the Labour Party. You only need to watch the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry’s ludicrous performance on BBC’s Question Time this week to see this. Not only has her Party just refused to vote for the election they’ve been incessantly calling for, but when she was asked by the Question Time presenter, Fiona Bruce, about how she would proceed if her Party won an election and negotiated a deal with the EU, she reached what may well be peak insanity — although it’s up against some pretty stiff competition of late — with the following extraordinary exchange:
Fiona Bruce: “Are you going to campaign for your deal, assuming you get one, or will you campaign for remain, against your own deal?”
Emily Thornberry: “Personally, I will campaign to remain.”
Bruce: “Even if you’ve negotiated the deal?”
Thornberry: “I will negotiate to the best of my ability, a deal which will look after jobs and the economy. But the best way to protect our economy is for us to remain.”
I’m not making that up. It really did happen. The shadow Foreign Secretary really did pledge to campaign against the deal she pledged to negotiate (you can give yourself a good laugh by looking at it here).
She sums up the Labour Party well. It has a leader who has been against the EU all his political life, until the very moment when it suddenly mattered, but who has since hidden his anti-EU opinions behind the pro-EU views of those around him. And so we now have a Party that nobody knows what its position is, because the Party itself doesn’t know what its position is, but we can be comforted by the knowledge that it’s chief foreign policy spokesperson says she would go into negotiations with the EU trying her best to get the best deal — which she would then refuse to support.
And what need I say of the Liberal Democrats, when its new boy, Chuka Umunna, can say it for me. Mr Umunna, who has been in more parties this year than my eight-year-old, stated the following on his Twitter feed:
“Voting with @joswinson and @timfarron just now in the @House of Commons to take over the Commons business tomorrow to pass a Bill to stop a ‘no deal’ Brexit – which for us is the first step to #StopBrexit altogether!”
Let me remind you that he is the Shadow Foreign Secretary of a party calling itself The Liberal Democrats. And yet here he is brazenly telling his followers that their ultimate aim is to thwart the result of the biggest democratic vote in British history. Of course, we knew that anyway, but it’s nice of him to be so open. Now I don’t personally care if he and his Party want to try to get elected on a platform of stopping a massive democratic vote. That’s up to them. But I would point out that continuing to call themselves Liberal Democrat really is a bit much. I would suggest something like The Literal Hypocrites, but readers may well have far better ideas which they can perhaps send to Mr Umunna.
As for the Green Party, they have a leader who recently admitted (just before her master plan to sort out this mess with an all-women cabinet) that even if there was a second referendum, which she has been calling for, she still wouldn’t accept the result. Perhaps after ten or so she might grudgingly accept it.
The current situation is so utterly absurd that it reminds me of that explanation of the rules of cricket, which goes like this:
“You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!”
So here’s the current state of Brexit, as explained to the bemused and befuddled:
“There are a number of parties. One of them wants to take us out, but there are some within that party that didn’t want to take us out, so they were kicked out by the man who just came in. In order to get us out, the man who just came in tried to get himself out, so that he could then get back in, in order to take us out. But he was thwarted by the other parties, who despite wanting him out, kept him in because they fear that if he gets out, he will then get back in and will then take us out. But if they can keep him in long enough, and prevent him from taking us out, they figure that soon after he has failed to take us out, they will be able to get him out and get themselves in. And then after he gets out and they get in, they may try to take us out or they may try to keep us in. It’s anyone’s guess. Then again, it’s entirely possible that if they do get in, they might try to get us out, then campaign against their deal for taking us out to try and keep us in. It really is that simple.”
Can anything be done? Indeed. I thoroughly recommend ignoring it as much as possible, going on plenty of walks, and reading lots of good books (I’ve been reading lots of Dickens recently and can thoroughly recommend him as a Brexit detoxifier). Other than that, trust in God and keep yer powder dry.