It is impossible to look at what we have done over Brexit without astonishmentby Dominic Grieve / January 28, 2019 / Leave a comment
As a practising Anglican I go to church on a Sunday. Among other things the prayers of intercession ask of me to pray that we may be “quietly governed.”
I find these words often spring to mind at the moment. When I first became familiar with them, I saw them as a quintessential encapsulation of what United Kingdom governments ought to be trying to deliver to their citizens. I have to accept, however, that this view probably identifies me as a Conservative, as there are some parties that give every indication that they believe that some shaking up and disruption can be beneficial to furthering social progress.
But this has, on the whole, not been the Conservative way, and when more radical measures have been deemed necessary, as under Margaret Thatcher, there has always been a slight sense of unease—remember the ageing Harold Macmillan’s unease over privatisation, which he called “selling off the family silver.” More radical right-wingers have sometimes complained of an inbuilt reluctance, inherent in our conservative philosophy, to upset the balance of any order we have inherited.
So it is impossible to look at what we have done over Brexit without astonishment. In the three years since David Cameron started the 2016 referendum process, we have taken our country on a path of revolutionary upheaval. Most oddly it has been demanded by Conservative Leavers in the name of restoring “traditional” government. Parliamentary sovereignty, our removal from the “foreign yoke” of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and “taking back control” of our borders so as to exclude foreigners are all invoked by those Conservatives supporting Brexit. Yet to achieve all this they demand that the principles of democratic representative government should be abandoned, and that MPs be reduced to mere agents in executing what they now consider to be “the People’s” demands. They consistently denounce any obstacles that our courts, insistent on the maintenance of the rule of law, might require to ensure that the process of Brexit is compliant with domestic and international legal obligations.
It is small wonder that all this has produced both chaos and paralysis in government and parliament. As the Brexit process has unfolded, the prime minister has tried to give effect to the referendum decision while striving to minimise…