The contract between ordinary citizens and their representatives is in danger of deterioratingby Thomas Maidment / January 14, 2019 / Leave a comment
For the political junkies among us, our desire to absorb all-things current affairs extends well beyond newspaper articles and the 10 o’clock news. So, when James Graham’s drama Brexit: The Uncivil War was broadcast on Channel 4, many of us watched attentively. Despite the occasional inaccuracy and the odd poor portrayal, the programme got the fundamentals correct: reasserting the importance of that infamous Brexit mantra “Take Back Control.”
Whilst this slogan was originally deployed with the understanding that it was championing the return of power from the European Union to the United Kingdom, the implications of the withdrawal process have allowed this phrase to become polysemic, and increasingly pertinent.
With the House of Commons recently passing the Europhile and former attorney-general Dominic Grieve’s amendment—demanding Theresa May returns to the Commons within three working days with a Plan B, should her deal fail to pass—power is gradually shifting away from the prime minister, and towards the legislative; parliament is effectively “taking back control.”
The significance of this is twofold. MPs will have to decide which option it is they want to pursue, which may take some time—whether this be the Norway-Plus option, the vociferously-voiced yet ambiguous ‘Labour’ Brexit, or a second referendum. It has also heightened the possibility of no Brexit, frustrating the wishes of millions of voters and rendering no-deal an impossibility.
For Dominic Grieve and other Remain-inclined Conservative MPs, by further tying the Government’s hands over Brexit in order to avoid a crisis of no-deal, they may be leading the country into a different crisis. In this respect, there are two different aspects worth considering.
The first surrounds the nature of the parliamentary sovereignty that Remain-inclined Conservative rebels wish to implement. With ‘sovereignty’ used as an important buzzword throughout the referendum campaign, the Tory rebels attempting to twist this into a demonstration of how they are, in fact, exercising and demonstrating that sovereignty, are misconstruing its very basis.
The strong-armed parliamentary sovereignty they are attempting to enforce—giving parliament total control over the Brexit procedure and using that as leverage to overrule the referendum result—is a deliberate attempt to weaponise sovereignty against the ordinary people from whom it derives. In doing so, the contract between…